Many European banks have temporarily shut hundreds of branches to limit the spread of the deal coronavirus (Covid-19).

UniCredit’s banking arm HypoVereinsbank (HVB) and Commerzbank are the latest major banks in Germany to shutter bank branches in large numbers.

HVB closes 101 branches

HVB revealed that it will close 101 out of its 337 branches in Germany. Branch teams will be working from home starting 17th March.

The branches will be open on alternate weeks to continue providing customers with personal advice.

However, customer advisors will continue to work at the branches and will be available to their customers by telephone.

HVB strengthens multi-channel banking services

The 24-hour self-service zones in 337 branches will allow customers to execute day-to-day bank transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, transfers, coin counting, and account information.

Consultation services will be provided through phone, video calls and Skype calls.

However, physical advisory services have been barred until further notice.

In a press release, the bank said: “The multi-channel offer will be significantly strengthened and, over the coming days, personal advisory services in the branches will gradually focus on high-frequency locations and flagship branches only.

“In addition, plexiglass separators will be installed, where necessary.”

Commerzbank branch closures

Commerzbank, which operates roughly 1,000 branches in Germany, too said it will close hundreds of branches to counter the spread of the virus.

The bank did not disclose the exact number of branches it intends to close.

Commerzbank added that it intends to increase the use of digital banking to limit the disruption caused by restricted branch services.

Customers of both the banks will still be able to access ATMs, online services and branches that remain open.

Italian lenders shorten branch opening hours

Retail bank Intesa San Paolo has closed some 122 of its small branches. About 900 of its 3,500 total branches are opening only in the morning and most of its smaller branches are operating three mornings a week.

UniCredit, which has around 4,000 branches in Italy, said it would keep only a limited number open in each region.

Banks around the world are working to keep their business running amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Recently, the European Central Bank (ECB) also asked the majority of its 3,500 staff in Frankfurt to work from home to measure its coronavirus (COVID-19) preparations.

Last week,  HSBC Bank sent more than 100 employees home after a worker from the research department tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

BBVA transferred almost 100 people from its trading floor in Madrid to a location outside the city.

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