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COVID-19: Banks roll out priority hour for the elderly and vulnerable

COVID-19: Banks roll out priority hour for the elderly and vulnerable

File photo of a row of ATMs in Singapore. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Banks in Singapore will set aside dedicated hours for elderly and vulnerable customers, as part of safe distancing measures during the country's month-long "circuit breaker" period.

UOB announced on Tuesday (Apr 7) that the first hour of operations at its branches would be reserved for customers deemed "vulnerable", such as those above 60 years old, who have disabilities or are pregnant. 

The move, which begins on Wednesday, will be accompanied by UOB branch employees guiding customers on maintaining appropriate distance from one another.

DBS will roll out a similar initiative on Thursday, with the first hour of banking operations set aside for the elderly, pregnant mothers and customers with disabilities.

READ: COVID-19: Supermarkets launch dedicated shopping hours for 'vulnerable segments' of community


With more people expected to stay home in the coming month as a result of Singapore's stricter measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, banks are scaling back operations.

The three local banks - UOB, DBS and OCBC - have announced they will temporarily close some of their branches.

OCBC said it would shut almost half of its 46 branches from Apr 9 to May 4. 

"While we will step up our resources at the branches to ensure that we deliver our services well, we seek our customers’ understanding for any unforeseen delay in our service delivery," said Mr Sunny Quek, OCBC Bank’s Head of Consumer Financial Services, Singapore.

"We encourage our customers to make use of our digital solutions to minimise their need to come into our branches." 

READ: Essential businesses will stay open even as most workplaces are to close from next Tuesday

Meanwhile, UOB will temporarily close 24 branches, leaving 38 open from Apr 11 to May 4. 

Ms Janet Young, UOB's Head of Group Channels and Digitalisation said: “We would like to reassure our customers that our full range of banking services will continue during this 'circuit-breaker' period. 

"We are taking a careful and considered approach to ensure our customers are provided with the full range of banking services while we do our best to protect their well-being and that of our colleagues.”

DBS said on its website that it would close around half of its 57 branches during the "circuit-breaker" period.


In addition to the temporary closures, banks have also been implementing the recommended measures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These include limiting the number of customers allowed in a branch at any point in time, making sure customers stand at least a metre apart, as well as temperature screenings and health declarations before entry.

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Source: CNA/lk(ac)


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