AJC file photo
Photo: Truist
Photo: Truist

Banks, credit unions close offices, keep drive-throughs open

Banks are joining the growing number of businesses closing retail centers due to the coronavirus, but they’re keeping drive-through lanes open.

Following the lead of malls and restaurants, Atlanta-area banks and credit unions announced this week that they’re closing lobby areas inside branch offices. Customers must instead conduct business in drive-through lanes, at ATMs or digitally.

Among large banks, Truist, Synovus and Regions all have closed or plan to shutter branch lobbies. Community banks like Heritage Bank in Jonesboro and Piedmont Bank in Peachtree Corners have closed lobby areas. And Delta Community Credit Union has closed three branches located inside Kroger supermarkets.

Regions Bank made the change to “help minimize risks related to coronavirus while also maintaining the ability of our local bankers to meet the critical financial needs of our customers,” Scott Peters, head of community banking, said in a news release.

Truist, the bank created by the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, will close branch lobbies starting Saturday. Customers can visit a branch lobby by appointment only. Truist operates 212 branches in metro Atlanta. About 85% of its branches nationwide have drive-through lanes. Truist has not yet identified the specific locations where branch lobbies will close.

Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase have closed some locations in Atlanta and limited the hours of operations at others, according to a company spokesperson at each bank. Neither company identified which locations have closed or reduced hours. Wells Fargo has 166 branches, and Chase runs 79 branches in metro Atlanta.

Credit unions also have adjusted to the coronavirus. Atlanta Postal Credit Union closed a branch located at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers office at its landlord’s request. MembersFirst Credit Union asked customers who are not hospital employees to use drive-through lanes at branches not located in hospitals. MembersFirst has branches at Wellstar-Cobb Hospital and several other Atlanta hospitals.

Some banks have made no changes. Bank of America continues to keep all of its 127 branches in metro Atlanta open, a spokesman said.

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