The Reserve Bank of India and majority of other private as well as state-run banks are considering closing most of their branches across the country to prevent thousands of the bankers from getting infected from the coronavirus (COVID-19), media reports stated on Thursday.

Indian societies run majorly on cash and banks play a crucial role in its existence. Therefore, the centre has exempted them the 21-day lockdown.

As per a Reuters report, one bank is likely to stay open every five kilometres.

“The general guideline is that branch operation should largely be for villages just to take care of those people who are not familiar with digital transactions,” a senior banker with a state-run bank was quoted by Reuters.

“Informally, banks are talking to each other to cope up with a situation where there will be some rush for cash withdrawal because it is expected the government will provide cash for the poor directly into their accounts,” the report added.

At present, the majority of banks have minimised their staff strength to 50 per cent. Lenders like Indian Bank has recently announced that only 50 per cent of its employees would be asked to be present in each branch on any given day. Similarly, Syndicate Bank has said that its branches will not offer passbook printing services to avoid any possible contact with the virus.

(With input from agencies)