Coronavirus masks guidelines might spur spike in financial institution robberies: regulator

The coronavirus disaster might make America’s banks a simple goal for bandits, a federal regulator warns.

Requiring individuals to put on face masks in public amid the pandemic creates a “very actual threat” of a spike in financial institution robberies, in accordance with Brian P. Brooks, the US Treasury’s performing comptroller of the foreign money.

Brooks issued the warning Monday in letters to the nation’s mayors and governors outlining how lockdowns geared toward curbing the virus might damage the American banking system. He mentioned many banks relaxed bans on masks and head coverings on the top of the pandemic to guard their clients’ well being.

“Whereas that will have been a prudent choice when the extent of the well being threat was nonetheless unknown, current stories of face-covering-related robberies at financial institution branches and different institutions clarify that broadly relevant face masks necessities usually are not protected or sustainable on a everlasting foundation,” wrote Brooks, whose first day within the publish regulating nationwide banks was Friday.

Masks-wearing robbers have certainly ransacked banks and different companies in the course of the pandemic, in accordance with information stories. The feds accused a Connecticut man of robbing a number of gasoline stations whereas carrying a surgical masks in March, earlier than the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention’s early April suggestion to put on face coverings in public.

Brooks’s letter didn’t element what number of such incidents have occurred nationwide or what sort of monetary losses banks have incurred from the robberies.

However he mentioned restrictions meant to regulate the virus pose a spread of different dangers that might “threaten the steadiness and orderly functioning of the monetary system.”

As an example, banks might undergo from increased delinquency charges on loans to small companies whose income has evaporated amid the lockdowns, in accordance with Brooks. Vandals and burglars might hit properties which have been vacant for lengthy intervals of time, threatening the collateral for industrial actual property loans, he mentioned.

Native officers might additionally hurt that collateral in the event that they reduce off utilities for companies that defy lockdown orders, as some cities have threatened to do, Brooks mentioned.

“I ask that your members fastidiously contemplate the affect of their lockdown orders on the well being and functioning of our shared nationwide monetary infrastructure as they implement the President’s steerage to find out when and the best way to unwind these orders,” Brooks wrote in his letter to the US Convention of Mayors.

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