There were fewer customers at banks in the capital on Wednesday compared to that in previous banking days before the Eid festival in the last two weeks.
Only a handful of people turned up at banks in the midst of inclement weather and the coronavirus lockdown. The few that did come were there either to deposit or withdraw money.
The country is going to enter a six-day Eid vacation from Thursday — as Shab-E Qadr, two weekly holidays on Friday and Saturday and then three days for Eid celebration. Therefore, banks opened their doors for customers on Wednesday as the last working day before this year's Eid-ul-Fitr.
Serajul Islam, executive director of the Bangladesh Bank, said banks suspended distribution of new notes before Eid this year in a bid to avoid gatherings amid the pandemic.
Banks in the capital usually become crowded before Eid as customers queue up for banking transactions on the final day of business before the long Eid break. Motijheel, the banking hub of the capital, did not have the extra rush this year before Eid.
However, banks at will remain open in the industrial areas on Friday and Saturday to enable garments factories to pay their workers. The rush of corporate clients at banks was comparatively low on Wednesday due to this reason.
Officials at the South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank in Keraniganj and Abdullahpur said they had a fair amount of transactions in the last two weeks, and Wednesday was quite dull in comparison.
A banker on condition of anonymity said his branch usually gets 7-8 remittance orders by noon every day, but they received only two on Wednesday.
Amid the Covid-19 crisis, many organisations could not pay Eid bonuses while many said they will not be able to make the payment even after Eid.
"This is the reality. Businesses are stuck since the virus outbreak, and most of the large malls are closed. We could have had cash flow if businesses were normal," said Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of Mutual Trust Bank.
"The overall situation is uncertain, and we are approaching an unexpected Eid celebration," he added.
In the meantime, AB Bank Managing Director Tarique Afzal said this Eid cannot be compared to previous ones because the virus has eaten up all festival-centric economic activities.
"Even then, people are coming to the banks and we had a fair customer presence in the last couple of days," he added.
For garments workers' salaries and Eid bonus payments, commercial banks will keep their branches open at industrial areas on Friday and Saturday next. Banks at those areas will remain open for two hours from 10am to 12 noon on Friday, while Saturday banking hours will be 10am to 2:30pm.