On-line transactions should be the primary mode of banking during the enhanced community quarantine as it will lessen the possibility of transmission of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, like the manufacturing, retail and service industries which will continue physical operations, banks and money transfer facilities must immediately develop and implement protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their respective workplaces. These protocols should include educating employees, and implementing social distancing, and infection control measures based on the guidelines issued by the DOLE, Department of Health, and Department of Trade and Industry.    

Social distancing aims to limit the number of people inside an establishment by ensuring that everybody is at least one meter apart from each other. This should be coupled with strict screening of people entering the bank premises. As advised by the World Health Organization Philippines, in the event of the rise of COVID-19 cases in the community, sick employees and customers, especially those with cough, colds, and fever (temperature of 37.3° or higher), must be instructed to stay home.

Regular disinfection of all surfaces must also be conducted. These include items often touched by people such as ATM machines, door knobs, seats, tables, pens, phones, and counters. Ideally, disinfection must be done after every transaction. Clients must also sanitize their hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer before and after touching anything in the bank.

Banks are encouraged to post reminders on proper cough and sneezing etiquette, and provide closed trash bins, tissue, and alcohol-based sanitizers in prominent areas of the establishment. If possible, they must also install a place to wash hands with soap and water.

Workers should also be given appropriate and sufficient personal protective equipment like masks and gloves to further safeguard them. As part of the measures to limit employee exposure, providing temporary housing and shuttle service especially to workers living outside the city is also recommended.

In the event that the establishment is exposed to COVID-19, the management must conduct contact tracing in coordination with the Department of Health and the concerned Local Government Unit.

END/ DJ Romero