Fears of contracting the novel coronavirus are running rife among bankers as two bankers infected and surge in cash counter by customer intensifies. The bankers however, are working with low protective measures and are harassed by law enforcing in different areas as well.

“Such differential treatment has created sharp resentment in the minds of staff members. Regular footfall at the branches are far greater…. Branches are more exposed to public contact and, therefore, more vulnerable in terms of getting affected by this deadly disease, said Rouful Parvez, the Sonali Bank Corporate Branch SPO.

Banks have continued offering services to clients amid the ongoing lockdown, though at a limited scale, but morale among staffers has been severely dented after an Agrani Bank and SIBL official tested positive for coronavirus.

Over 4,000 bank branches out of 12,000 are open during the holidays. Most of the service bankers need to visit branches in rotation which, want over 1 lkah bankers are serving in rotation.

“Although the central bank circular claims that banks are open in a limited scale but most of the branch officials will be focused to the viral risk because they work in rotation and shift,” 

Clients come to the banks from different places and could easily spread the contagion to others, Ashikul Islam, branch manager in a private bank said. It could also spread through the currency notes touched by an infected person, he added.

Banker sought special incentive like election duty as they are getting life risk for providing service, Zakir Hossain Khan a General Manager of Sonali Bank said.

 The government imposed a countrywide shutdown in an effort to curb a further outbreak but banks have been asked to remain open as an emergency service while downscaling their operations.

Banking hours, however, are limited from 10 am to 12 pm, with the central bank asking bank authorities to discourage their clients from coming in during the lockdown.

Though offices and transport services are shut, people are still visiting banks, according to a few bankers. But bank staffers experience a lot of trouble commuting while clients are ignoring social distancing measures, increasing the risk of infection, they said.

On Wednesday, the principal branch of Agrani Bank in Motijheel was closed after one of its officials was diagnosed with coronavirus. At least 64 officials were quarantined.

Both the government and private banks are crowded with people visiting for different purposes, which include collecting salaries and allowances at the beginning of the month.

However, banks have not been able to make clients abide by the health and hygiene directives during the outbreak, according to Md Rezzakul Haider of Rupali Bank.

“On Tuesday, we had to call the police to manage the crowd at our Amincourt branch. Police came and made them maintain queues. We don’t know how to continue providing services under these circumstances and Bangladesh Bank should give us a directive in this regard. We’ll follow it,” he mentioned.

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