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Banner, Community banks latest to close lobbies, public spaces

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Banner Bank
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More banks are making the switch to drive-through and digital platforms in accordance with public health recommendations and to create social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walla Walla-based Banner Bank, Joseph-based Community Bank and others Wednesday announced the changeover.

“We are asking any client who may need assistance to please call us right away so we can discuss their specific situation and go over options available to them,” Banner said in its announcement.

Restrictions on lobby access at all of the company’s branches started Wednesday. Drive-up banking operates on normal business hours, as well as onsite ATMs that take deposits, in addition to withdrawals, and night depositories.

Banner said employee teams are staffing inside to help with client needs via telephone. Those who need access to safe deposit boxes or other lobby services can get them by calling their branches to set up appointments.

Then bank has also started offering a slew of ways to help with some financial security for clients: increased daily limits for Snapshot mobile check deposit, increased debit card ATM withdrawal limits, waived penalties for early CD withdrawals up to $25,000 (not available the first six days of term or within six days of a prior withdrawal), options for payment deferrals on mortgages, home equity lines, personal loans, small business loans and more, waived late fees for loans and credit cards for clients in good standing, and expedited processing on Small Business Administration applications for qualified businesses affected by the pandemic.

A similar closure is coming to Community Bank starting Monday.

Lobbies of all of its branches will close until further notice, the company said. Banking will continue via drive-throughs and ATMs. Those needing access to safe deposit boxes should inquire at the windows or contact their branches in advance.

“We think it’s best to err on the side of caution,” said Community Bank President Tom Moran in Wednesday’s announcement. “We are following previously established procedures ... and will keep the public informed as the situation continues to develop.”

Community Bank continues to offer online banking, mobile apps, online loan applications and night drop.

Community Bank and Banner Bank are among the two latest to announce the changes. Earlier in the week, Baker Boyer Bank closed its lobbies and switched to social distancing platforms, too.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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