UK bank customers who refuse to wear masks inside HSBC branches will be refused service and may have their accounts closed, the bank says.
The threat was not well-received by customers, particularly given HSBC’s recent history in the courts.
HSBC customers who enter a branch bare-faced without a written medical exemption could forfeit their money, a spokesman told UK tabloid the Mirror on Tuesday.
The bank’s head of branch network for the UK argued bank staff “deserve respect and should not have to face violent or abusive behaviour”.
He encouraged customers to stay home and use HSBC’s digital banking tools rather than go out to the bank.
Most of HSBC’s main competitors, including Santander, Lloyds, and NatWest, subsequently informed customers that they too will not be served if they walk into a bank branch without a mask.
However, of the other banks questioned by the Mirror, only Barclays explicitly affirmed its right to close accounts if customers “act aggressively towards staff”.
Many on social media were disturbed that a bank would threaten to confiscate customers’ money over a mask.
Several pointed out that HSBC was recently convicted of laundering billions of dollars in drug profits for international narcotics cartels and so lacked any sort of moral high ground.
However, some applauded the bank for keeping its employees safe.
Already enmeshed in its third lockdown, this week the UK issued further rules to citizens. Shops, supermarkets, and most other indoor locations require customers to cover their face or be denied admission unless they can show a medical exemption.
However, not every establishment is eager to do double duty as mask police. The Post Office, for example, has urged customers to obey the rules, but told the Mirror it would not be refusing admission to maskless customers.
A trade group representing over 170 British retailers urged the police to step in, arguing it was not shops’ responsibility to monitor customers’ adherence to the ever-shifting rules.