DBS to progressively close 29 branches till May 4 as circuit breaker measures kick in

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Singapore’s largest bank DBS will progressively close 29 DBS/POSB branches islandwide over the course of about one week, in light of stricter “circuit breaker” safe distancing measures to reduce the community spread of Covid-19.

In a notice put up on the DBS website late Monday night (April 6), DBS said affected branches will temporarily shut between April 7 and April 14, through to May 4. Its Marina Bay Sands branch will be the first to shut on Tuesday, followed by its Newton, Square 2, Tampines East, White Sands, Jurong Point and Tanjong Pagar branches on April 9.

Branches that will be closed on April 13 are located at: Ngee Ann City, Woodlands West, Tampines One, Marine Parade, Seletar Mall, Alexandra, Holland Village, and Raffles Link.

The remaining 14 affected branches that will close on April 14 are located at: Bishan, Raffles Place, South Bridge, Suntec City, Centrepoint, Yishun West, Bedok, Serangoon Garden, Compass One, Eastpoint, Westgate, Bukit Panjang, Jurong West and Yew Tee.

All DBS Treasures and DBS Treasures Private Client centres will also be closed from April 9 to May 4.

That leaves 28 DBS/POSB branches that will stay open with regular banking hours.

For branches that remain open, the first hour of opening will be dedicated to the vulnerable group of customers from April 9, said the lender. This group comprises the elderly (aged 60 and above), pregnant mothers and customers with disabilities. The bank’s SMS Q service will not be available during this hour.

“In line with the stricter government guidelines to keep Singaporeans safe, we have sought to strike a balance between meeting customers’ needs and doing our part to safeguard the well-being of both branch staff and the public,” a DBS spokesperson told BT.

“We are mindful that banking is an essential service and the vast majority of DBS’ extensive network, including more than 2,000 cash disbursement touchpoints, remains fully available. At the same time, we strongly encourage our customers to go digital with our comprehensive suite of online and mobile banking services during this period, so we can focus on serving those in urgent need at branches and call centres,” he added.

DBS’s latest move comes as its local peer OCBC announced last Friday that it will close 22 of its Singapore branches from April 9 to May 4. With that, 24 branches remain open, including all 19 branches that offer banking services on Sunday.

UOB has said that it will notify the public by April 7 of its branch closures.

As part of industry-wide efforts to minimise social interaction, Maybank, HSBC, Citi and Standard Chartered have also announced plans to temporarily shut selected branches in Singapore from April 9 to May 4.

Standard Chartered on Monday said it will close half of its 16 branches in Singapore, which are located at: Bedok, Clementi, Jurong Point, Marina Bay, Ngee Ann City International Banking Priority Private Banking Centre, Sixth Avenue, Takashimaya and Tampines.

The six Maybank branches that will be closed from April 9 are located at: Holland Village, Jurong East, Tampines, Waterway Point, Yishun, and Orchard Shopping Centre (MSpace). Two other branches at Textile Centre and Woodlands 888 will be closed from April 15.

Cash transactions, cheque deposit services and payment services including remittance will be available at the remaining nine branches, said Maybank Singapore in a statement on Saturday.

Meanwhile, HSBC on Saturday also said it will temporarily close seven of its 13 branches islandwide. The affected branches are located at: Hillview, Alexandra, Tampines, Suntec City, Holland Village, Jewel Changi Airport and Collyer Quay.

Over the same period, Citibank Singapore will close four branches at Asia Square, Woodlands, Holland Village and Punggol. This is in addition to the four Instant Banking Centres – located at Bugis, Boon Lay, Tampines and Changi Business Park – which have been temporarily closed since March 27.

Remaining Citi branch locations will have revised operating hours, and vulnerable customers such as the elderly and pregnant women will be provided with a dedicated hour from 9.30am to 10.30am as well as priority queues to enter these branches for their banking needs, said the bank in a statement last Friday.

While banks are essential services that will stay open during the month-long imposition of tighter restrictions to curb the virus spread in Singapore, lenders are due to shut a significant number of branches amid slower traffic as well as in balancing staff welfare.

The authorities in Singapore have assured that all financial markets in Singapore remain open, and that payment services are unaffected.

The remaining branches that remain open must be well distributed across the country to adequately meet their banking customers’ needs. ATM services must also remain available.

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