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By Imani Moise
March 24 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc said on Tuesday it will temporarily shutter up to 15% of its U.S. branches amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"As our clients and communities increasingly self-isolate, we have noticed shifts in foot traffic and market dynamics - so to best meet our changing customer needs we have begun to temporarily close branches," spokesman Drew Benson said.
The closures are expected to be in effect by the end of the week.
Citigroup has roughly 700 branches primarily located in 6 cities across the U.S.
The third largest U.S. lender said it would also temporarily reduce branch hours and redeploy staff to ensure access to essential services.
Citi's move follows other large banks who have begun to scale back some retail operations in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus while keeping critical banking services like accessing deposits available to customers.
JPMorgan Chase and Co, the largest U.S. bank, said last week it would temporarily shut about 20% of its branch network leaving it with roughly 4,000 locations.
Bank of America Corp said it has reduced operating hours at its branches.
Banks have largely been excluded from government-mandated shutdowns across the country because they are considered an essential industry by the federal government, meaning most bank branches, call centers and trading floors have stayed open even as many firms sent their employees home.
On Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed the Department of Homeland Security’s designation of the financial services workforce as critical infrastructure workers, and said employees who provide consumer access to banking and lending services should maintain their normal schedules amid state and local shutdown orders. (Reporting by Imani Moise, Editing by Franklin Paul)