Banks should ask customers to de-mask upon entry — regional group

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Banks should ask customers to de-mask upon entry — regional group

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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CASTRIES, Saint Lucia — The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) is urging its members to insist that customers briefly remove their masks upon entry to their facilities.

The move, the association said, is for security and identification purposes.

It argued that while banks have been observing COVID-10 protocols by enforcing mask wearing, providing hand sanitiser dispensers to staff and customers, installing social distancing signs and Plexiglas shields at teller stations, and pushing online and mobile banking options, physical security within the institutions has been disadvantaged and compromised as a result of the masks, which cover customers' mouths and noses.

“Public health officials view masks as one of the best defences against the growing novel coronavirus threat, but they can pose a totally different threat to security for businesses," CAB said in a statement today.

“The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) Inc has urged members and business interests throughout the region to be more vigilant, and to take on board the necessary measures to keep staff and customers safe, not only from the coronavirus, but from persons of ill intent. Businesses are encouraged to insist that customers wear masks. However, customers should be invited to de-mask briefly before entering the bank premises, for the purpose of identification. This small step can go a long way,” the association said.

It recommended too, that additional layers of security be implemented, such as asking for basic information from customers upon entry to verify the identities of masked customers. In addition, CAB suggests in addition, that staff be trained to look out for suspicious behaviour, and law enforcement be contacted immediately whenever there is concern about suspicious individuals on bank premises. Limits can also be placed on the number of customers allowed to enter the premises at any given time, CAB added.

"Our members simply cannot afford to take the health and safety of their employees for granted," explained CEO Wendy Delmar. "But at the same time, we absolutely must do everything in our power to maintain security and uphold best practices. To that end, I implore banks to be more vigilant and to employ whatever measures may be required by their local health authorities to limit the spread of the virus, whilst doing what needs to be done to protect their assets."

CAB represents 56 banks and financial institutions in the Caribbean with an asset base in excess of US$41 billion as at Dec 31, 2019.

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