Safety and Security Collide as Banks Mask Up
Before the pandemic, the idea of wearing a mask into a bank or other financial institution probably seemed highly questionable. We’ve all seen enough movies to know what happens when a person in a ski mask (or, if you’re a fan of Westerns, a red-checkered handkerchief) steps inside a bank.
The statewide mandate to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 has scrambled many aspects of our lives, and going to the bank is no different. “Out of an abundance of caution and to protect staff and customers, banks have historically prohibited masks and other face coverings,” the Wisconsin Bankers Association said in a recent press release. “While that is no longer the case because of COVID-19, there are still things you should know before walking into your local bank.”
While masking rules have varied by city and county, Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide emergency order effective Aug. 1 offers banks some certainty, said Rose Oswald Poels, the president and CEO of the WBA. “For those financial institutions that had been operating in multiple jurisdictions under differing rules, this provides a uniform set of parameters for everyone to operate under,” she said.
When you step into your bank or credit union’s lobby, be aware that different institutions are using different approaches to identifying customers. The WBA notes that customers may be asked to:
- Lower their mask for a few seconds while facing a security camera.
- Lower their mask for a few seconds to allow staff to identify them.
- Answer security/identification verification questions (similar to using phone banking services).
- Use the drive-thru if they are unwilling or unable to comply with the bank’s guidelines for masks.
If you’ve got questions or concerns, check your financial institution’s website or call ahead.