Bank workers also at the frontlines amid coronavirus crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A different breed of frontline workers has emerged as the country addresses the COVID-19 crisis.

All of Luzon and recently, the province of Cebu, have been placed under "enhanced community quarantine," with government restricting the movement of residents except for urgent needs. Access to money is one of them.

While most of the heavy lifting is borne by doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, bank tellers and the rest the financial services sector also face the daily worry of how they can get to work and service hundreds of clients, hoping that none of them are carriers of the disease, as they process deposits and withdrawals in succession.

Miko Roman, a reconciliation assistant for BDO Unibank, said he had no choice but to find ways to report for work without public transportation.

"Those with cars fetched our colleagues, and (some) even used a motorcycle to pick up one colleague after another. We walked for several kilometers from our homes," he shared in a post. "If we stop our operations, who else in our sector will serve the public? Who will safeguard their hard-earned cash in these times of emergency?"

Another bank employee, Regine Azereth Trambulo Agreda, opted for an eco-friendly way to get to work: biking.

"I’m so proud of you, all those BANKING INDUSTRY PEOPLE, and other frontliners in this difficult time. I am praying for everyone’s safety and continuous guidance from the Lord. Thank you for the heroic act!" Regine's wife said on Facebook.

There are also lines just to enter bank premises now, as most people who do not have access to their accounts online or via remote channels are forced to transact over-the-counter. Not all bank branches remain open too, so the foot traffic is heavier than ever.

Even automated teller machines are not spared, making it more in demand for cash replenishment due to frequent withdrawals.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas tried to make it easy on these bank staff, saying that it will start issuing IDs that would excuse hardworking employees in the industry from further scrutiny at checkpoints.

It's not just banks — remittance agents, payment system operators, money changers, and pawnshops are covered too.

They may not be monitoring vital signs or tending to the sick, but these banking industry workers are keeping a different lifeline in check, and that's ensuring that people can deposit or withdraw much-needed money at this time. Salaries, remittances, and loans can mean life and death for cash-strapped Filipinos.