Nationwide to close branches and reduce opening hours
Nationwide has announced that it will be closing some branches and reducing its opening hours amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for greater care to be taken regarding social distancing, and in light of his announcement to lockdown many ‘non-critical’ services and retailers, Nationwide has moved to reduce opening times until further notice in order to help wider efforts to stunt the growth of the virus.
Core hours for most branches will now be 10am until 2pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am until 12pm on Saturday, with increased distancing between employees and members to give greater confidence and safety.
Nationwide, which has around 650 branches, is continuing to stay open where possible, due to banking being deemed as critical. The society has needed to close around 50 branches due to low staffing. However, around 450 are operating with the core reduced hours, while the remaining branches have individual opening hours due to local variations.
As a result of these measures, Nationwide will stop running the early opening sessions for older people and those with underlying health conditions. While the trial has been well received, given the change in government advice, the Society believes this to be the right approach.
In accordance with government social distancing guidelines, face-to-face interviews in branches will be stopped as staff focus on providing critical counter services only.
Those with pre-booked appointments – for example, personal banking, mortgages or financial planning - are being contacted separately to arrange alternative ways of communicating, such as telephone or Nationwide Now - a service that enables customers to visit a branch and talk to someone over a high-definition video link. The Society is also exploring other ways of connecting people to branches.
Nationwide will review Saturday openings as things progress to ensure it remains appropriate and does not exacerbate demand.
There will be a two-metre distance rule between staff and customers at all times, while numbers of people in branches will be restricted to ensure rules around space can be controlled as much as possible. The changes are being clearly signposted at branches to ensure all customers are aware of the rules around social distancing and opening times.
Mandy Beech, Nationwide’s director of Branches, said: “As a direct result of the latest government advice around coronavirus, our branches will be operating reduced hours. We remain open and we will try to keep as many of our branches open while we are able to. However, where possible we would ask people, particularly those at higher risk, to use online or mobile banking services and to speak to us if they have any needs or concerns. We thank our members for their patience as we know this is an extremely challenging time for many.”
The society is encouraging people to sign up to online services and offers a range of services such as demonstration videos and support offered via the society’s contact centres.
Nationwide recently announced a range of support options for members financially impacted by coronavirus. These include self-certified mortgage payment breaks and measures agreed on a case-by-case basis, from increased credit and overdraft limits, to the removal of interest charges on credit cards and overdrafts.
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