Banks say staff will be wearing masks in Auckland branches under alert level 3 and they will encourage customers to wear masks too despite the potential for it to be an increased security risk.
Banks typically have signs outside their branches asking customers to remove anything that could cover people's faces like motorcycle helmets, hoodies and sunglasses as a preventative measure.
Up until this week the Government has been lukewarm over mask-wearing but the latest outbreak in Auckland has prompted a shift in policy to a recommendation for Aucklanders to wear masks while out in public.
It's not compulsory to wear a face mask in public but other countries with outbreaks have made it mandatory.
In Melbourne, which is fighting off its second wave of Covid-19, residents face a fine of A$200 if they don't wear a mask in public.
For banks, the issue is a dilemma on multiple fronts as mask-wearing could also be a health and safety issue for bank workers if a sick customer comes into a branch and is not wearing a mask.
Roger Beaumont, chief executive of the New Zealand Bankers' Association, said the situation was an operational risk for banks and it was up to them to decide individually how to handle it.
"But my sense would be that banks are being really pragmatic about this, that the advice is for health reasons so banks will be comfortable with people coming into a branch wearing a face mask."
Beaumont said banks had other measures in place that would help with the security risk including posting security guards outside branches.
He said other forms of face covering such as sunglasses, hats or hoodies would still be banned.
"There are obviously practical considerations around the health requirements for face masks. Often it is the visual identification that your eyes can give, some banks may want people to take their masks off for a brief period of time for identification verification.
"But the various mechanics of it will vary from bank to bank."
Callum Francis, banking spokesman for the First Union, said bank customers coming into a branch should be required to wear face masks.
"It is not about an individual. It is about everybody else at the same time. If these people are being required to work they are having to be in a branch, their employer should be encouraging if not requiring customers to wear masks - to make sure the people working there are protected as much as possible."
He said the security risk was not an issue that had been raised with him but a number of banks also had security guards outside the branch as a deterrent.
"I think it is something the banks should be cognisant of. But if they have got security guards controlling the entry and exit that should resolve those sorts of concerns."
Banks are considered an essential service and remained open during alert level 4 although most only opened branches one day a week for limited hours.
A Kiwibank spokeswoman said it would be making masks available to its staff in customer-facing roles such as branches and would take a "common sense" approach to customers wearing masks.
Its Auckland branches were closed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Outside Auckland, its branches were using alert level 2 guidelines, including social distancing and contact tracing.
"Contact tracing QR codes are on the doors of all our branches. Instead of visiting branches we ask that customers consider phone or internet banking in the first instance."
The other main trading banks shut Auckland branches on Wednesday to prepare for alert level 3 and reopened branches on Thursday and Friday.
A spokesman for the BNZ said its staff would be wearing masks in branches.
"But we will not be requiring customers to do the same. There will be strict physical distancing and a range of measures in place to help with this."
He said as long as masks were not being used as part of a disguise, for example alongside dark sunglasses, there would be no security issues.
"We are comfortable with being able to ID our customers if they are wearing a mask."
A Westpac spokesman said there were a range of measures it had put in place to protect the wellbeing of customers and staff.
"We will have guards controlling entry and there will be social distancing at our 13 Auckland branches.
"Perspex sneeze barriers are in place at branch counters and team members will be wearing masks."
He said in line with Government advice, the bank was encouraging customers to wear masks.
"Customers may be required to briefly remove their mask to assist with identification."
An ANZ spokesman said its Auckland branch staff would be wearing masks and it would
also have perspex sneeze guards at the counter, along with hand sanitiser and physical distancing.
"We are encouraging all customers, as per the PM's advice, to wear a mask when physically accessing essential services such as banking, but consistent with her messaging we are not currently making it mandatory.
"If the Government does make it mandatory in the future, then we, too, would make it compulsory for everyone in our branches."
He said for customer and staff safety it would have security guards present at all sites in Auckland.
The spokesman said while Covid remained a risk in the community, it was encouraging customers to use online banking services where possible, rather than coming into branches.
"We also ask customers not to come to a branch if they have been unwell, or have been in contact with someone who shows flu-like symptoms."
ASB executive general manager retail banking, Craig Sims, said all its Auckland staff had been provided with personal protective equipment.
"Our operating hours will remain the same, however, while we are in alert level 3, we are encouraging our customers to continue using online and digital services in the first instance. We have a range of ways our customers can bank with us and we're asking people not to go into our branches unless it's essential they do."