(Trail Times photo)

Trail banks, institutions adapt to COVID changes

Especially on days when government cheques are issued, line-ups outside can get long

To avoid seniors having to stand and wait for long periods of time outside the CIBC branch when they need to see a teller, the bank has a new policy in place.

For the latest on COVID click here: Trail Times coronavirus news

“Recognizing that seniors represent one of our most vulnerable communities, we have instituted a ‘you’re next’ policy,” Trish Tervit, CIBC director of public affairs, told the Times.

“Meaning, we will proactively serve them by inviting these clients, and persons with disabilities, out of line and addressing their needs with our next available team member so we can get their needs addressed quickly and safely.”

The issue of long wait times for banking customers – specifically seniors and those with physical barriers – surfaced the past few weeks once Trail started to slowly re-open, including the downtown financial institutions.

Banks are following mandated protocols such as social distancing between tellers and only allowing a few customers inside at one time.

Inevitably, long lines were forming outside some downtown banks, prompting a few locals to voice their frustrations to the Times. The problems they mentioned were about the difficulty of social distancing on the sidewalks and how waiting for long periods of times put seniors at-risk, especially last week when the sun was beating down.

“Last Friday (June 5) saw an increase in branch traffic due to multiple Government of Canada payments issued at the end of the month,” Deb Melnyk, senior manager at Kootenay Savings Credit Union told the Times.

“Moving members to the Cedar Avenue side of the building was a temporary fix to ensure members had some shade while they waited.”

Kootenay Savings follows the guidelines of the BC Health Authority and BC’s Restart Plan, she continued.

“Precautionary measures we have in place include ensuring physical distancing is being followed and limiting the number of people permitted in the branch at the same time. We’ve also installed Plexiglas for our front-line tellers and have increased the level of cleaning and sanitation at high touch areas such as our ATM’s,” she said. “Appointments for advisory services are currently being handled by phone versus in-person.”

It’s important to note that Trail CIBC and Kootenay Savings Credit Union are not being singled out.

Both institutions provided the Times with comments and information on what they are doing to address problems related to the new COVID protocols.

Another bank has not replied.

“We have social distancing measures in place inside our banking centres and while we can’t enforce this practice outside our locations, we urge clients to do so,” said Tervit.

“Social distancing is now part of our everyday lives as we all work together to flatten the curve of COVID-19, and we ask all to follow the direction of Canada’s health professionals by exercising good judgment and respect for others.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve we have taken proactive, precautionary action to continue serving our clients while protecting the health and safety of our clients, team members and the communities we serve,” she said.

“At the same time, we are committed to meeting the banking needs of our clients in this challenging period, and we will continue to operate our banking centres with some modifications in service, including temporary closures or reduced hours at some locations.”

As a member-owned credit union, local decision-making and thriving communities are the cornerstone of who we are, Melnyk said.

“The health and safety of our employees, members and communities have been and continue to be our highest priority throughout the pandemic. We have a team in place that monitors the latest developments to ensure we are following the recommended guidelines of the provincial health agencies,” she explained.

“To do our part to reduce the spread of the virus, we’re encouraging members to limit their branch visits and use one of our many 24/7 alternate banking options, such as online, mobile or phone banking from the comfort of their homes, at their convenience.”

The Member Service Contact Centre is available six days a week, and offers the same services as those available in branch.

“We are here to help and support members and local businesses during these unprecedented times,” Melnyk said.

“Our members can count on us for the same trusted advice and service that they’re accustomed to getting.”


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