The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has drawn up post-lockdown Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including floor marking at entry gates, thermal screening, and monitoring of staff and customers using the Aarogya Setu app at entry points, for banks to resume full-fledged operations with safety.

This is in anticipation of the relaxation in the Covid-19-induced nationwide lockdown in some parts of the country from May 4.

As per the post-lockdown SOPs for the banking sector, banks must put in place proper crowd management strategy and ensure social distancing with help from local authorities and police.

IBA said the SOPs seek to ensure that all stakeholders – customers, employees, vendors, contract staff – feel safe and secure in bank premises. The procedures thatcan be adopted by bank branches, head office, regional and zonal offices, staff training colleges, and data centresinclude disinfecting the entrance gate of branches, buildings, offices, currency chest, ATMs, E-Lobby, meeting rooms, conference halls, canteens, rest rooms, and pantries.

High touch surfaces such as door handles, lifts/elevators and their buttons, vehicles (especially commonly used vehicles), shuttle buses, and all other surfaces such as hand railings, office tables, and chairs will also need to be disinfected.

The SOPs require banks to keep hand sanitisers at the entrance of all branches and offices. Employees, after entry, have to sanitise their hands before proceeding to their work spots. Visitors will be required to sanitise their hands before approaching bank staff.

IBA has advised that staff should work from their seats and avoid going to fellow employees’ seats as far as possible.

Housekeeping staff

The SOPs require banks to pay special attention to the hygiene of housekeeping staff, company hired drivers, people serving tea/coffeeas they are exposed to most of the employees. In case Covid-19 like symptoms are noticed, departments should report to health authorities.

“Appropriate protective equipment such as face masks, goggles, gloves, aprons, shoes, appropriate disinfecting equipment such as sprayer, brush, sanitiser, soaps must be made available. Thermal scanners are to be used wherever needed,” the SOP document said.

Installation of disinfection chambers at places with higher number of staff such as Head Office/Central Offices/IT Offices/Data Centre/ Zonal Offices / high footfall branches could be implemented in a phased manner as per priority.

To the extent possible, bank employees should be encouraged to use their personal vehicles for commuting to work place, the SOP said and added that carpools or public transport should be avoided.

Banks may devise strategies for arranging bus transportation for employees in key areas of the city. This may include tie-ups with the aggregators, or engaging the services of their own customers who are in this sector.

“Meetings to be avoided as far as possible.Video conference/conference calls to be used as an alternative. For emergency situations where a meeting cannot be avoided, proper gap by leaving one chair vacant should be followed in the conference rooms,” the SOP said.

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, banks have been offering only four essential services – cash deposit and withdrawals, clearing of cheques, remittances and government transactions.