ABA Says Banks Should ‘Require’ Masks; CUNA Says Credit Unions Should ‘Encourage’ Them

It may be a question of semantics, but it appears that several business groups are going further than the Credit Union National Association in pushing members or customers to wear masks when doing business.

Last week, CUNA President Jim Nussle issued a statement pushing credit unions to “encourage” members to wear masks to protect themselves and credit union employees from COVID-19.

On Sunday, American Bankers Association President/CEO Rob Nichols sent a letter to ABA members urging them to “require” customers to wear masks.

It is unclear whether the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions has adopted a mask recommendation; trade group officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Mandatory wearing of masks has become a hot-button political issue, as the coronavirus continues to spread. President Trump and others have argued that people should have the right to make their own decisions, while others have said requiring masks will help stem the spread of the virus.

Last week, Nussle issued a statement that read, in part, “Credit unions have embodied a ‘people helping people’ philosophy for more than a century. In that spirit, we hope all credit unions will join us by encouraging all able members to wear a mask when inside a credit union.  This small step will help slow the spread of the virus, protect members and financial first responders, and get the economy back on track sooner.”

CUNA Chief Engagement Officer Greg Michlig told reporters Monday that the statement was developed in conjunction with the trade group’s Credit Union COVID-19 Restart and Recovery Task Force.

On Sunday, Nichols sent a letter to members saying that after consulting with the ABA Executive Committee,  “I encourage you today to adopt and publicly pronounce a policy requiring all who enter your branches to wear a mask. This policy clarity offers so many benefits.”

In addition to the health benefits, Nichols said that such a policy would “set expectations publicly and thereby help frontline employees as they engage with customers and visitors to the branch.”

Several large retailers, most notably Walmart, have adopted mandatory mask policies. The National Retail Federation recommended such a policy last week.

“Shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right,” the NRF said. “If a customer refuses to adhere to store policies, they are putting employees and other customers at undue risk.”

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