TORONTO — The Canadian Bankers Association says the country's six biggest banks are working together in their efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 by temporarily limiting branch operating hours and reducing the number of branches, while maintaining critical services.
The association says special care will be given to branches in rural communities.
It says many banking services will continue to be available through bank machines, mobile apps, bank websites and telephone banking.
The move comes as public health officials urge people to limit contact with others in an effort to limit the threat of the novel coronavirus.
Businesses across the country have responded by cutting back, changing their operations and finding ways to allow employees to work from home.
Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce has said 816 of its locations will remain open, but operate under modified hours, while 206 which do not offer over-the-counter cash and banking services will temporarily close effective Wednesday.
The bank is also introducing assistance for clients impacted by job loss or other circumstances and urged those that need help to contact the bank to review options.
"As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve we are taking proactive, precautionary action to continue serving our clients while protecting the health and safety of our clients, team members and the communities we serve," said Laura Dottori-Attanasio, CIBC's senior executive vice-president, personal and business banking.
"We remain ready to help clients with their banking needs and we're proud to support our clients and our community as we work through the current situation together."
RBC Royal Bank said in a statement it will temporarily close some of its branches starting this week.
"Limiting the number of branches we open will allow us to provide more of our employees with the option to work from home," said Katie Dudtschak, executive vice president of personal and commercial regional banking.
The bank will continue to take precautions, such as disinfecting its retail branches and ATMs more frequently, she said.
The bank is asking clients to use branches only for essential services and directed customers to ATMs, its mobile app and online banking for paying bills, sending money through e-transfers, viewing balances and other banking tasks. Clients can also access telephone banking for more complex needs, the company said.
"As this issue evolves, we remain committed to supporting our clients and employees, and providing Canadians with the services they need during these challenging times."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2020.
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