HSBC Says UK Bank Customers Who Won't Wear Face Masks May Have Accounts Closed

HSBC Says UK Bank Customers Who Won't Wear Face Masks May Have Accounts Closed
HSBC logo is seen in the financial district in New York, on Aug 7, 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
Jack Phillips

HSBC told its UK customers that they could have their accounts closed if they refuse to wear a face mask in a branch of the bank.

The move comes amid tighter enforcement by police and retailers of laws enacted in the spring that mandate wearing face coverings in public indoor spaces, including bank branches.

Jackie Uhi, head of the branch network, told The Epoch Times that they reserve the right to withdraw the accounts of people who don't comply.

"Sadly, some people are failing to protect themselves, our branch colleagues and other customers by refusing to wear a face covering inside our branches or observe social distancing," Uhi said.

"If you do visit us, please wear a face covering and maintain a safe distance from others. If individuals put themselves or our colleagues at risk, without a medical exemption, we reserve the right to withdraw their account," she said.

She said her colleagues at HSBC deserve respect and should not have to face violent or abusive behaviour, and suggested customers could consider whether they need to visit a branch or if they could manage their banking from the "safety of your home via our digital channels."

HSBC has not yet closed any accounts and it isn't known if other banks will follow its lead.

HSBC last year was criticized for supporting the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) national security law in Hong Kong. HSBC's chief executive, Peter Wong, signed a petition that "respects and supports all laws that stabilise Hong Kong's social order."

The UK has one of the strictest CCP virus lockdowns in the world. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remarked this week that there are signs the lockdown is working.
“We are now seeing the beginnings of some signs that that is starting to have an effect in many parts of the country but by no means everywhere,” Johnson said on Jan. 13. “It is early days and people must keep their discipline, keep enforcing the rules, and work together to roll out the vaccine program.”

Johnson added that he wants to see the country exit its lockdown as soon as possible.

On Jan. 12, British Home Secretary Priti Patel warned that police will issue more fines for people who break the government's restrictions.

"Our police officers are now moving more quickly to issuing the fines when people are clearly breaching the coronavirus regulations,” she said. "If you do not play your part, our selfless police officers, who are out risking their own lives every day to keep us safe, will enforce the regulations and I will back them to do so—to protect the NHS and save lives.

“Nobody can doubt the serious damage that is done by lockdowns to people’s mental health, to jobs, to livelihoods."

Johnson, meanwhile, has been accused of hypocrisy for riding a bicycle across London with several of his security officers.

“It is OK to go for a long walk or cycle ride,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a news conference. “But stay local.”
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