Just one week after Commonwealth Bank cut branch hours so that staff could deal with the growing volume of calls by customers in lockdown, Westpac said it will also close one-quarter of its branches across Greater Sydney in the early afternoon.
Westpac said it will shut 195 Westpac and St George branded branches from 2.30 pm from Tuesday 3 August.
Westpac’s chief customer engagement officer Ross Miller said the bank wanted to continue to keep doors open for customers during this time while ensuring it adheres to public health orders and takes steps to protect branch employees.
“This means from next Tuesday, we will reduce opening times from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm so that branch employees can better juggle home and workloads during this unusual time,” Miller said in a statement.
“We have seen reduced foot traffic in our branch network during the lockdown as more people stay home, and we would encourage customers with non-essential banking needs to use our mobile, online, and telephone banking services where possible.”
The Westpac executive said if customers do need to come into a branch for essential support, Westpac has a range of safety measures in place to protect them and our employees, including social distancing requirements.
Miller said branches already operate under an extensive Covid-safe plan with face shields, masks, physical safety barriers, distance signage, hand sanitiser, and maximum occupancy limits.
Last week CBA said branches in 90 regional locations will serve local communities in the morning and shut their doors in the afternoon so staff can work at CBA’s contact centres which are receiving more than a million increasingly complex customer inquiries every month.
The new system of shorter branch hours will start mid-September as the bank continues to deal with the effects of an escalating health crisis on customers.