HK regulator estimates 20-30% of bank branches to be closed temporarily due to coronavirus

Maria Nikolova

Hong Kong’s banking sector has introduced a series of measures, including split-team arrangements and allowing staff to work from home where practicable.

The spread of the coronavirus has triggered bank branch closures in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) says today that has received reports from banks that, in order to continue operating on this basis, some of their branches will need to be closed or operating hours will need to be shortened temporarily. According to the information provided, around 20-30% of bank branches are expected to be closed temporarily and some of the remaining branches will be open for restricted hours.

Bank customers are advised to use online or phone banking, ATMs and other electronic banking services as far as possible, and to check banks’ latest announcements on service arrangements via their websites or customer service hotlines before visiting branches.

In addition, the Hong Kong Association of Banks will provide on its website regular updates on the service status of bank branches.

The HKMA says it will continue to monitor developments relating to the coronavirus and maintain close contact with the banks.

Earlier this week, the Financial Secretary urged financial organisations to implement special work arrangements for their employees as far as practicable, so as to work together to reduce the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the community.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, activated the Emergency Response Level on January 25 and announced a series of measures, including indefinitely suspending flight and high-speed train services to and from Wuhan of the Hubei Province. The Government further announced on January 26 the restriction of Hubei Province residents and persons who have visited Hubei Province in the past 14 days from entering Hong Kong. In parallel, the Government is exploring measures to further reduce people flow between Hong Kong and the Mainland to minimize the chances of infected persons entering Hong Kong.

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