SOME banks have opted for a temporary closure of branches across the country as part of measures to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), which claimed its first victim in the country on Monday.
This comes as more private sector players are joining hands in the fight against the pandemic through awareness programmes, with Government also tightening preventive measures guided by comprehensive policy steps and practical surveillance initiatives across the country.
In public notices to clients yesterday, established financial institutions that include First Capital Bank, Stanbic and Old Mutual outlined bold steps to help protect their clients and the transacting public from any possible Covid-19 infections.
First Capital Bank wrote to its clients yesterday: “To protect clients and staff from the spread of Covid-19, we are reducing our branch network by temporarily closing Belmont, Borrowdale, Harare Street and First Street from 24/03/20”.
Stanbic Bank also issued communication advising of the temporary closure of the institution’s Victoria Falls and Hwange branches as part of its preventive measures against the spread of the Covid-19. Zimbabwe’s first case of Covid-19 was reported in the resort town of Victoria Falls last Friday.
Last week, the bank also advised of the temporary closure of its Incubator Hub as a measure to support the effective practice of social distancing recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Stanbic head of marketing and corporate affairs, Palmer Mugavha, said that the two branches and the Incubator Hub were closed as the institution puts “human life ahead of profit” in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, which has wreaked havoc throughout the world.
“One of the biggest lessons we have learnt from the outbreak is that people need to be proactive rather than reactive. Some countries have been hit hardest because they took time to act so we saw it fit to support our country in the preventive strategies being taken following the President’s national disaster declaration.”
Giant corporates, Old Mutual Holdings and Liquid Telecoms, have also responded to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and have highlighted “robust contingency plans” across their business operations to protect the health of their employees and clientele.
Old Mutual, which also runs CABS, said it was taking the well-being of customers and business partners seriously. “We have taken precautionary measures as a business to reduce the risks associated with the spread of Covid-19 virus. We have introduced wipes or similar sanitisers, at all entrances and exits in our banking halls and business offices. Regular sterilisation is also done in all our high touch areas as an added precautionary measure. We are also limiting traffic from suppliers and other third parties to reduce direct interaction,” said the group.
“Meetings are now done through video conference or telephone facilities. We have minimised all regional and international travel to help limit exposure and contain the outbreak. Travel is only done when critical to the business and post travel quarantine arrangements are invoked wherever necessary. We will continue to monitor the situation in order to constantly adapt to your needs should things change’’.
Meanwhile, Liquid Telecom said it was committed to ensure that their customers have access to the most reliable network and digital solutions — now and in the weeks and months to come. As the situation evolves, the company said it is working closely with its employees, partners and suppliers to support ongoing business operations and serve the customers’ needs.
Group CEO Nic Rudnick said: “Our thoughts go out to the many people who have been affected by this unprecedented event. To ensure business continuity, most of our personnel can work and collaborate from remote sites utilising Microsoft Teams and other tools.
“Where possible, we are also helping our customers to maintain operations as close as possible to normal using similar applications.”
Yesterday, more financial institutions were said to be planning similar temporary shutdown while those branches that remained operational were making it mandatory for every customer who visits their premises to have their hands sanitised upon entering and exiting the offices using sanitizing sprays and wipes. Retail operators in Bulawayo were also sanitising clients’ hands upon entrance.
-Additional reporting from our Harare Bureau.