Starting Tuesday, Bank on Buffalo customers will be able to walk into branch lobbies without an appointment, something they haven’t been able to do since late March.
Like many banks serving the region, Bank on Buffalo has had limited branch access for the past couple of months in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, Bank on Buffalo is ready to lift that restriction.
“Some transactions not only take a bit longer than a simple cashed check or deposit, but also greater finesse and confidentiality than you can provide in a drive-up,” said Martin Griffith, Bank on Buffalo’s president. “Much of what we do involves providing our clients with full financial services such as learning about various solutions, opening accounts and applying for mortgages and other loans.”
As Western New York moves toward the second phase of its reopening, it’s not clear how soon many other banks will follow suit.
“We do not expect any initial changes to our branch hours or lobby restrictions as Western New York reopens,” Citizens Bank said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as appropriate.”
Banks are quick to note that they have kept branches running, meeting with customers by appointment and providing drive-thru window service where that is available. Even so, lobby access is limited.
Bank on Buffalo, which has four area branches, said customers will be required to wear a mask inside its branches, but will need to remove masks briefly for identification purposes. And the bank will limit the number of clients allowed inside at one time, in keeping with social distancing practices.
Another change: from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on weekdays, Bank on Buffalo will reserve its lobby access for seniors and those considered at high risk.
Bank of America has been a notable exception to the restricted-branch policy. It has kept its lobbies open, without requiring customers to make appointments. However, the bank has temporarily closed several of its area branches, due to reduced customer traffic at those locations.
“We’re going to be reopening those as communities kind of reopen and there’s more traffic,” said William Halldin, a Bank of America spokesman. The temporarily closed locations tend to be smaller branches that have a nearby branch customers can visit, he said.
All of Bank of America’s operating branches have at least one ATM, in case customers don’t want to walk into a branch. Inside the branches, the bank has taken steps including regular cleaning, plexiglass barriers, social-distance markings on the floor and gloves for employees.
While its lobbies have stayed open, Bank of America branches have generally seen less traffic than usual with so many people staying home, Halldin said.
KeyBank and M&T Bank, which account for a huge percentage of the local branch population, haven’t signaled any…