COVID-19: Financial institutions scale down operations

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

FINANCIAL institutions have significantly scaled down their operations following the imposition of a COVID-19-induced 30-day lockdown which compels businesses to operate for short hours.

The country has of late recorded a sharp rise in COVID 19 infections with 1 365 new infections and 34 fatalities reported on Tuesday. This was the highest number of infections and fatalities over a period of 24 hours since the first case was reported in the country in March last year. The recovery rate has also plummeted from over 90% to 69% .

In a statement to its clients on Monday, financial services giant Old Mutual Zimbabwe said its branch presence would be significantly reduced as part of measures to minimise the spread of the virulent disease.

“With immediate effect from Wednesday 6 January 2020, our branch presence will be significantly reduced, whilst we monitor the situation and closely monitor any updates on the lockdown conditions,” Old Mutual said.

Similarly, Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe said it would also be scaling down its business operations.

“Africa Unity Square and Bulawayo branches are open from 0800hrs to 1500hrs during weekdays and 1130hrs on Saturdays. We have scaled down on staff presence across our branches and office locations and have reinforced split working arrangements where the majority of our staff are working remotely,” Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe said in an email to its clients.

“We will offer limited services in branches which are loan applications, cash deposits and exchange control related services. All other services will be available on our digital channels and at ATMs. Bulk cash deposits and corporate withdrawals should be done by appointment through your relationship manager and must be in by 1200hrs.

“Cash withdrawals for individuals will be dispensed through ATMs which will be sanitised regularly.” Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe also closed its Samora Machel, Msasa and Belmont branches and reduced its call centre operating hours to just between 8am and 3pm from a cut off time of 4.30pm.

First Capital Bank has also realigned its operations in line with the COVID-19 restrictions by reducing the operating hours of all their branches countrywide effective from Tuesday this week.

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