The next few weeks are going to be the worst since the pandemic began according to Chris Whitty, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer. And Lloyds now needs to revisit the issue of essential banking quickly.

Lloyds should be congratulated for following the union’s advice and reducing opening hours during the week, closing on Saturdays and allowing staff to go home early.

In her note to staff last week, Ms. Jo Harris, Managing Director, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland, said: “In the first lockdown we established a range of essential services to cover key activities, but we know that was difficult for you, as you had to educate customers on our services and had to make judgements on individual vulnerability”. We are not sure where Ms. Harris gets her information from, but that’s not the experience of our members.

There is a minority of customers who are simply too stupid to understand the severity of the pandemic and think they can carry on doing what they have always done. Essential banking allowed staff to limit the activities of those customers, and it worked well. We know that some customers didn’t like being told what they could and couldn’t do and complained but, to put it bluntly, that’s just tough luck. The health and safety of our members trumps the banking concerns of a few malcontents who seem to inhabit a different planet to the rest of us.

Ms. Harris then says: “The situation last March was quite different. We now have a Covid-safe working environment….”. Really?

We would argue, and so do the scientists, that the situation now is significantly worse than it was in March. We are dealing with a mutated virus, which we are told is up to 70% more transmissible. In a message yesterday, Professor Chris Whitty said: “Every unnecessary interaction you have could be the link in a chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end”. Lloyds shouldn’t, however unwittingly, be encouraging customers to leave home simply to do a bit of unnecessary banking. The responsible thing for all banks to do, including Lloyds, is to limit activities to essential banking only until at least the middle of February. Lloyds know that as well as we do.

Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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