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Some European banks shut branches to limit coronavirus spread

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Commerzbank said it will close several hundred of its roughly 1,000 branches in Germany, while HVB said it plans to close 101 of its 337 branches.

Two of Germany’s largest banks have temporarily shut hundreds of branches, while Italian lenders have shortened opening hours as they grapple with staff shortages and the spread of coronavirus.

Commerzbank said it will close several hundred of its roughly 1,000 branches in Germany, while HVB said it plans to close 101 of its 337 branches.

The banks are hoping that increased use of digital banking will limit the disruption caused by restricted branch services, while in Britain, Spain, and France, where most banks remain open, there have been calls on customers to go online.

Customers of HVB and Commerzbank will still be able to use ATMs, online services and those branches that remain open. Several German savings banks have already closed or are planning to close branches.

Around 900 larger branches at Italy’s biggest retail bank, Intesa San Paolo (ISP.MI), out of a total of 3,500, is only opening in the morning while most of its smaller sites are operating three mornings a week.

Intesa, which has closed some 122 of its small branches located nearer large ones, said that starting from on March 17 customers would need to book an appointment to be able to access one of its branches.

UniCredit, which has around 4,000 branches in Italy, said last week it would keep only a limited number open in each region.

Other Italian banks are following suit, with Banca Monte Dei Paschi also opening only in the morning.

British banking trade body UK Finance, which represents more than 250 firms, said continued access to banking services was “critical” and it would work closely with government and regulators to ensure its members could keep serving customers.

And in France, the country’s banking federation said that despite complex operational conditions, all employees in the networks are and will remain fully mobilized to help their clients to get through this exceptional crisis.

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