HSBC has warned customers that they could close down their accounts if they refuse to wear face masks in branches.
However, those who are medically exempt will still be allowed to visit banks without a face covering.
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Banks are allowed to stay open during the third lockdown in England as they provide essential financial services.
But as part of government guidelines, banks and building societies are included in the list of public places where you must wear a face mask.
There are scenarios where you may be allowed to take off your covering, for example, if bank staff need to see your face for identification purposes.
Customers are also being asked to only visit branches if necessary and if they can’t get help online or over the phone.
Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?
THE following groups of people don’t need to wear a face mask when in a public place:
- Children under the age of 11
- People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability
- Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- To avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- Police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
If you're not exempt, you must wear a face covering in the following settings in England:
- Public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
- Taxis and private hire vehicles
- Transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
- Shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- Shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
- Auction houses
- Hospitality settings (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink
- Post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- Estate and lettings agents
- Personal care and beauty settings (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
- Visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
- Libraries and public reading rooms
- Places of worship
- Funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
- Community centres, youth centres and social clubs
- Exhibition halls and conference centres
- Public areas in hotels and hostels
- Storage and distribution facilities
HSBC – which also owns First Direct and Marks & Spencer Bank – issued the update to customers yesterday, January 12, amid rising cases of coronavirus.
It told The Sun that it hasn't yet had to close down any accounts due to face mask rules.
We're checking if the face mask warning applies to M&S Bank customers too and we'll update this article when we know more. First Direct is an online-only bank.
The tougher rules come as the UK suffered its second deadliest day so far in the pandemic yesterday, with 1,243 fatalities reported.
The total number of coronavirus infections is now 3,164,051 after 45,533 more tested positive.
We're checking with the other major UK banks – including NatWest Group, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander and TSB – if they're taking similar action for people who refuse to wear face masks.
Barclays told The Sun it won't threaten to close the account of those who don't wear face masks as a blanket rule.
A spokesperson said a customer only risks losing their account if they become aggressive when approached by staff.
Jackie Uhi, head of branch network, HSBC UK said: “Consider whether you need to visit the branch or could manage your banking from the safety of your home via our digital channels.
“If you do visit us, please wear a face covering and maintain a safe distance from others.
“If individuals put themselves or our colleagues at risk, without a medical exemption, we reserve the right to withdraw their account.”
Are banks open during lockdown? Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest and Halifax opening times and advice.
Supermarkets are open and they have certain rules you need to follow in store when visiting – and there may be some limits on items too.
Pubs, bars and restaurants are closed but they can offer takeaway and delivery services, although takeaway pints are banned.
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