Banks unlikely to return to ‘regular’ hours

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At least one commercial bank has announced adjustments in its opening hours beginning  ext Monday, but a banking official has said it is unlikely they will return to pre-pandemic operating hours anytime soon. The Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) has informed its customers that as of Monday 14th September 2020, they will extend their hours to allow customers to conduct specific transactions between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00
p.m at their Redcliffe Street and Woods branches.

Clients will only be able to take advantage of the extended hours by appointment. Between 2pm and 5pm account updates, online and mobile banking operations, online and mobile
banking demos and debit and credit card applications will be handled. Bank card and cheque book collection will also take place during the extended hours. Recently, the  Cabinet called on businesses, including banks to return to regular hours effective September 1, 2020 over concerns that reduced schedules were having a negative impact on the country’s economy.

Despite the government’s call, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Bankers Association, Michael Spencer, said returning to pre-pandemic hours is unlikely as the State of  emergency has led to banks being required to follow strict protocols which, among other things, limit the number of customers and staff allowed in the building at any one time. In addition, there is regular cleaning that must also take place at each institution. Spencer said since June, banks have been operating Monday to Thursday from 8:00am to 1:00pm and on Fridays 8:00am to 2:00pm. The Royal Bank of Canada closes one hour earlier.
“These are likely to continue for the foreseeable future,” he remarked.

Spencer noted that customers have not been made to suffer as a result of the adjusted  hours as banks have encouraged their customers to make use of online banking and debit
cards. “These hours of operation have not affected the services that we offer. We currently are operating as normal as we can under the present circumstances,” he stated.