Cape Town - South African banks will remain open over the 21-day national lockdown period, the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) said on Thursday.
The lockdown, which comes into effect at midnight, was announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
"Customers are encouraged to transact at ATMs and from their homes, by internet and with smartphone applications wherever possible, and only visit branches when absolutely necessary," said BASA in a statement.
It added that branches may have less staff than usual, and encouraged customers to be patient and take all necessary precautions to protect their health and the health of others.
Call centres, ATMS and point of sale (POS) devices would be operational. Saswitch fees will be waived, meaning customers can use any ATM and only pay the usual fees charges by their banks. BASA said customers would be notified when the waiver came into effect.
"The number of staff who will have to work in offices, call centres, data centres and branches will be kept to the minimum and all World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols will be observed," said the association.
It "strongly" encouraged all customers to continue to meet their banking and financial services obligations "wherever possible" and said customers in good standing who were up to date with "commitments" with their historical banks would be assisted with "appropriate solutions" if they experienced financial challenges due to Covid-19.
The "appropriate solutions" would be determined on a case by case basis, said BASA, and could include "suitable payment deferrals, the restructuring of debt, the provision of small and medium enterprise (SME) bridging finance and liaising with the government and others who are providing additional support mechanisms".
Particular attention would be given to those sectors likely to be most vulnerable in the current circumstances.
"Banks are investigating ways to assist customers on an industry and collaborative basis wherever possible."