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Some bank branches going drive-thru only

Banks are starting to temporarily restrict their branch service to drive-thru windows, hoping to limit the spread of COVID-19.

KeyBank, Community Bank, Alden State Bank, the Bank of Akron, and the Bank of Holland are among the banks that have gone this route. Evans Bank and Northwest Bank will make the switch starting Friday. Five Star Bank has adopted a drive-thru-only policy at most of its branches.

"We promise to remain accessible to our customers during this temporary shift to a new normal," said Martin K. Birmingham, president and CEO of Five Star Bank.

The banks taking these steps say in addition to the drive-thru windows, they are still available to customers in other ways, including ATMs and phone and digital service. They are emphasizing that customers' money remains safe. And most of the banks going this route are allowing customers to schedule in-person visits to a branch by appointment only.

M&T, the region's largest bank as measured by deposits, is about to revise its branch policy.

“Our branch network is preparing to modify in order to maintain customer service levels while limiting face-to-face interaction, and an announcement is forthcoming," said Julia Berchou, an M&T spokeswoman. "Our No. 1 priority is to provide the safest possible environment for our branch employees and customers.”

Bank of America has not made any changes in its branch service, said Bill Halldin, a spokesman.

Citizens Bank is reducing branch operating hours and encouraging its customers to use its drive-thru service.

Bank on Buffalo's branches remain open to customers, but starting Friday, the bank is reducing branch hours to 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday, or by appointment. (Its Electric Tower branch is not open Saturdays.) Drive-thru services will remain open for regular drive-thru hours where that is available.

Inside its branches, Bank on Buffalo is using enhanced cleaning procedures and its structuring its staff into two teams and limiting face-to-face meetings and communications. The bank is asking anyone who is experiencing coughs or illness refrain from entering branch lobbies.

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