WINCHESTER — The next time you go to the bank, don’t plan to go inside to have your paycheck cashed or withdraw a small amount of money.

Amid concerns about the coronavirus spreading, most area banks are closing their lobbies and asking customers to use drive-through lanes or make electronic transactions.

One of those is the Bank of Clarke County. At all of its branches, only drive-through lanes are open, according to a news release.

Brandon Lorey, the bank’s president and CEO, said that decision was made based on recent advice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have beefed up our drive-through staff to process transactions as efficiently as possible,” Lorey said.

Customers also are being encouraged to use the bank’s online and mobile banking systems and automatic teller machine (ATM) network, he said. In addition, they can call the bank’s Customer Support Center for services.

Anyone who needs to enter a Bank of Clarke branch, such as to access a safe deposit box, can call the support center to make an appointment, the release stated.

A sign on the door at the bank’s main branch in Berryville states that customers wanting to withdraw more than $3,000 also must make an appointment to come inside. They must show their IDs upon arrival, the sign reads.

Bank of Clarke County is trying to “serve all our customers in the most expedient and safe way possible,” Lorey added, while limiting contact between customers and employees to try and prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

At First Bank, access to branch lobbies is being limited “to try to limit the volume of (foot) traffic” in them, said CEO Scott Harvard. Customers needing lobby access, such as to get to safe deposit boxes, should call and make an appointment before they come, he said.

Otherwise, services are being provided only in drive-through lanes, online or at ATMs, Harvard said.

Atlantic Union Bank also is closing lobbies but keeping drive-throughs open. Customers with special banking needs can call to make appointments to come inside branches, according to a release.

“The safety and health of our customers and teammates are our priorities as we continue monitoring the situation daily and make important changes to minimize the impact on the communities we serve,” said John Asbury, CEO of Atlantic Union Bankshares.

BB&T, now operating as Truist following a merger with SunTrust Bank, announced Thursday that it will impose customer service restrictions beginning Saturday.

At most branches, lobbies will close and banking services will be provided in drive-through lanes. “In-branch consultations” will be by appointment only, according to a news release.

Some branches without drive-through lanes that are determined to be crucial to the communities they serve will remain open, but with regular enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols, the release stated.

However, some branches will temporarily close, and their employees will temporarily relocate to other branches, the release mentioned. The company plans to announce which branches will close soon.

Electronic banking options will continue to be provided, the release indicated.

“More and more, our clients are choosing to conduct their banking business through our drive-throughs, ATMs, contact centers and digital banking options” amid concerns about the coronavirus, said Brant Standridge, head of Truist’s Retail Community Banking section. Therefore, the planned operational changes are “a natural next step,” he said.

United Bank is maintaining drive-through services at its branches, said Jordan Twyman, a sales and service representative at the branch in Ward Plaza on Valley Avenue in Winchester.

In the case of the branch downtown, only the walk-up window is open, said Luke Nussman, a sales associate there.

Twyman said United is making some appointments for lobby services, but mainly for business customers.

Maegan Lewis, a communications consultant for Wells Fargo, wrote in an email that the company is continuing to evaluate what it needs to do to combat the coronavirus crisis.

Currently, Lewis wrote, “we are enhancing social distancing measures, utilizing drive-ups in some cases instead of lobbies, staggering staff and shifts, relocating employees to busier branches and temporarily closing some branches. We also encourage our customers to use our mobile and online banking tools.

She did not provide specifics for Winchester-area banks.

Except for the Bank of Clarke County, none of the banks indicated any limits on amounts of money that customers can receive.

“Wells Fargo has not put in place limits on cash withdrawals in our branches. We have significant cash reserves,” Lewis wrote. “We are prepared to meet our customers’ cash needs.”

Representatives of City National Bank did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

All of the banking restrictions are in place until further notice, representatives of the banks that responded said.

So far, the new procedures “seem to be working well” at First Bank, Harvard said.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

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