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Banks to shorten business hours amid COVID-19 resurgence

Corporate logos of South Korea‘s leading banks (Yonhap)
Corporate logos of South Korea‘s leading banks (Yonhap)

Commercial banks in South Korea are slated to cut back on business hours in line with the highest social distancing rules of Level 4, according to the Korea Federation of Banks on Friday.

Local bank branches will adjust their operating hours to between 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, from the current 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and its delta variant, officials said.

The recent move came after the government announced it will implement Level 4 guidelines in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon starting Monday for two weeks, as the fourth wave of new COVID-19 outbreak creeps on.

The banks are also planning to further expand their work-from-home schemes. The nation’s major lenders, including KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Woori and NH NongHyup, already increased the proportion of their employees working remotely or in separate work sites by up to 40 percent, they added.

“We have already been operating under stricter rules, abiding by the government’s social distancing measures. But with the newly imposed rules, there will be discussions of strengthening the COVID-19 countermeasures,” a NongHyup Bank official said.

A Shinhan Bank official also said they are planning to discuss imposing stricter rules on site.

Meanwhile, if the COVID-19 resurgence prolongs, local banks will review whether to limit the number of customers inside their individual branches to under 10, industry sources said.

The country reported 1,316 cases, a record-high COVID-19 daily tally, for Thursday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

By Byun Hye-Jin (hyejin2@heraldcorp.com)
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