Banks throughout Dhaka saw a minimal turnout of customers on Thursday – the second day of a stricter lockdown measure introduced across the country to stem the second major wave of Covid-19 infections.
Several branches told The Business Standard that the presence of customers was significantly low compared to Tuesday (13 April), when people flocked to banks in a mad rush to take care of their banking.
A number of bankers on condition of anonymity said, though Thursday is the last working day of the week, most people did their transactions on Tuesday because of the central bank's previous decision to keep banks closed during the lockdown.
An official of Janata Bank's Shaymoli branch said, "the presence of customers at this branch was very low. Only those needing to carry out crucial transactions visited this branch, and nearly all of them were business related."
Reiterating the same, an official of Bank Asia's Postagola branch said, "many regular customers completed their bank transactions on Tuesday, ahead of the stricter lockdown period. So their presence was low on Thursday, and most people who came were businesspersons."
A Dhaka North zonal official of Agrani Bank said, "there are 15 branches under my zone, and only seven were kept open on Thursday. The Rampura branch had slightly more customers than the rest.
"Aside from regular branches, authorized dealers (ADs) and corporate branches are also open."
The central bank on Tuesday evening decided to keep banks open for customers throughout the stricter lockdown period starting from 14 April. Following this decision, banks were open for transactions from 10am to 1pm on Thursday.
However, bankers have been directed to remain at their workplace till 2:30pm to conclude all back office transactions.
The Bangladesh Bank in a gazette notification on 13 April said a bank will be allowed to operate only one branch in every two kilometer area under a city corporation on working days. In upazilas, banks will be able to operate one branch on every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday of the week.
Besides, banks will also be allowed to keep their principal branches open throughout the stricter lockdown period, and they will continue to operate specific branches that are authorised to handle foreign exchange.
Banks will remain closed on weekly and government holidays.