The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which has returned to stricter health protocols with the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, is reminding banks to do the same while movement restrictions are in place to stem the more infectious virus-variants transmission.

Most banks, especially big banks, have implemented reduced brick-and-mortar operations and workforce of branches until the first week of April, or until the government lifts its stricter lockdown status on areas inside the so-called NCR Plus that includes Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Batangas – all under general community quarantines.

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno (Bloomberg file)

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said Wednesday that the number of COVID-19 cases and the vaccination rollout is crucial to the BSP’s exit strategy or in the withdrawal of its monetary measures to fight the adverse impact of the pandemic to the economy.

Diokno said the timing of the BSP’s exit strategy is crucial and will primarily depend on the inflation outlook and the state of public health, among other factors. He said that a “sustained decline in virus transmission and more rapid deployment of vaccines can help boost consumer and business sentiment, which may lead to a faster economic recovery.”

In a separate statement Wednesday, the BSP said it is closely coordinating with the banking industry to “ensure the continuous delivery of financial services as it urges the banks to observe necessary health protocols to protect its personnel and clients against COVID-19.” 

“Moreover, the BSP continues to encourage the use of digital banking facilities to allow the public to carry out needed financial transactions safely amid the health crisis,” it said, adding that “together with the banking industry (BSP) stands ready to ensure the safe and smooth functioning of the banking system.”

As far as BSP operations are concerned, it continues to assure the public of its “unhampered services” in delivering its mandated responsibilities for the “smooth functioning of the economy and the financial system, while safeguarding the welfare of its personnel and frontliners.”

“In response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, the BSP will observe alternative work arrangements at its Head Office in Manila and Security Plant Complex in Quezon City until March 31,” said the BSP.

“On the other hand, personnel from the BSP’s mission-critical departments and support units will continue to report on-site, as appropriate, while strictly observing Department of Health-mandated health protocols,” it added.

These health protocols, which the BSP has adopted since the onset of the pandemic last year, include frequent disinfection of all premises, and active testing, tracing and quarantine procedures.

Source: Manila Bulletin (