By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Banks will remain open in Alabama while more businesses temporary close their doors and more social distancing measures are put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Alabama Bankers Association issued a memorandum to elected officials on Monday on how banks across Alabama should operate and assist their customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
While bank lobbies may not be open anymore, banks can still serve customers through drive-thru windows, online and by making appointments to see a banker.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris issued orders on Friday that prohibit on-site restaurant dining and non-work gatherings of more than 25 people that cannot maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between them.
Harris on Monday said there were no plans yet to issue a shelter-in-place order for Alabamians, has have been issued in a few other states. But ADPH would make that decision with guidance from the governor and state Legislature.
If a shelter-in-place order is issued on Alabama, banks would still be expected to remain open since federal guidance labels banks as an essential “critical infrastructure sector,” the ABA said.
The memo also assures officials that banks are financially “sound and secure” and that depositors will no be at risk of losing money because every bank carries Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance on all bank accounts.
Fraud is a constant concern for banks and the memo warns officials to be warry of scammers trying to steal sensitive information. It says customers should review bank statements, protect passwords and “if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.”
The memo says those who are concerned about how to pay their bills or business owners worried about payroll or lines of credit should call their banker.
“Bankers are working diligently with state and federal regulators, including the Small Business Administration, to seek as much flexibility as possible in order to meet customer needs, especially during these tough times,” Jason Isbell, the vice president of legal and governmental affairs for ABA said in the memo.
As of Monday evening, there were 196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama. Cases have been reported in 24 counties, with Jefferson County reporting the most.
Harris said during a press conference on Monday that those infected ranged from age 2 to 97 and that about 6 to 7% of the cases had required hospitalization.
The state established a hotline, 1-800-270-7268 and an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for questions about testing availability and other issues related to the outbreak.