Most customers expressed fears that their residential areas may be locked down any time amid the growing coronavirus cases in Dhaka city
What will happen to us if banks are closed for a long time? So, I took a precaution and came to the bank to withdraw money.
Mahmud Rahman, a customer of AB Bank's Uttara branch in Dhaka, was explaining why he, just like many others, on Tuesday came to the bank to draw out cash.
Almost all banks and their ATM booths in the capital saw a huge rush of clients on Tuesday for withdrawal of money. The banks were, however, seen sincere in ensuring social distancing among the clients.
Meanwhile, many banks also rushed to the Bangladesh Bank to collect cash to meet the additional demand for cash in their branches.
Most customers expressed fears that their residential areas may be locked down any time amid the growing coronavirus cases in Dhaka city. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police has already asked all grocery shops to be closed by 2pm daily.
Besides, many service holders recently got their salaries and they rushed to banks to withdraw cash to maintain monthly expenses such as house rents, utility bills and others.
The AB Bank customer Mahmud Rahman said he will keep the money to him so that he can face financial constraints if the crisis prolongs and the banks go into shutdown.
There were long queues in front of ATM booths in the city, including those at Motijheel, Baridhara, Karwan Bazar, Kamalapur and Mirpur.
"We are drawing out extra money in case we need it during the holidays," said Afsar Alam, a private company employee, at Dutch-Bangla Bank's ATM booth in Mirpur.
To stem the coronavirus pandemic, the government declared general holidays, except for some emergency services including banks, from March 26 to April 4. Later, the duration was extended twice till April 14.
From March 29, banks went on a limited-scale operation from 10am to 1pm every working day.
Anisur Rahman, assistant general manager and also the manager at Pubali Bank's principal branch in Motijheel, said, "A large number of customers have come to withdraw money today (Tuesday). But most of them are withdrawing Tk10,000-20,000."
"Most are taking out money because residential areas are being closed one after another. People may not be able to come to banks even if banks are open because of this," said Dr Mohammed Haider Ali Miah, managing director of Exim Bank.
So, the customers are trying to collect money as much as they can, he added.
Meanwhile, the central bank issued a circular on Tuesday , declaring that banks will provide services on a limited scale till April 13 so that people can withdraw money to meet their daily expenses and traders can make deposits.
During this period, banks will remain open for only cash transactions from 10am to 1pm. But banks dealing with foreign exchange will be operated from 10am to 2pm.