Pawtucket Credit Union limits branch access amid staffing shortages

PAWTUCKET CREDIT UNION is temporarily shuttering one branch and limiting lobby hours at four others amid staffing shortages caused by the pandemic. /PBN FILE PHOTO
PAWTUCKET CREDIT UNION is temporarily shuttering one branch and limiting lobby hours at four others amid staffing shortages caused by the pandemic. / PBN FILE PHOTO

PAWTUCKET – Pawtucket Credit Union is temporarily shuttering one branch and limiting lobby hours at four others amid staffing shortages caused by the pandemic.

In an email to members on Nov. 9 shared with Providence Business News, the credit union announced that its Central Avenue branch in Pawtucket would be closing temporarily. The lobbies of four other branches – on Newport Avenue in East Providence, Independence Way in Cranston, Post Road in Warwick and Tower Hill Road in North Kingstown – will only be available by appointment starting Nov. 16.

George Charette, president and CEO of Pawtucket Credit Union, explained the decision as one based on safety and lack of bank tellers. The credit union has lost nine of its tellers in recent weeks due to a combination of COVID-19 outbreaks, other medical reasons and those taking family leave to care for loved ones. Given that the state has also seen a spike in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, Charette did not want to spread out existing employees across multiple branches to cover the worker shortages, preferring to keep groups of workers together to minimize potential spread of the virus.

He plans to revisit the decision on Dec. 7, and potentially reopen some or all of the closed or restricted branches depending upon staffing levels and the case count across the state. The bank’s Broadway Avenue branch in Pawtucket has extended drive-up and lobby hours to Saturday mornings to accommodate customers who typically use the now-closed Central Avenue branch.

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While banks across the state and country closed or severely restricted branch access when the pandemic hit in March, most have not reimposed those limitations despite the second wave of COVID-19 cases. Citizens Bank, Bank of America, The Washington Trust Co., Bank Rhode Island, BankNewport and Centreville Bank have all continued to operate under normal hours, though with continued adherence to sanitation, social distancing and other safety protocols, according to spokespeople for those banks.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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