J.P. Morgan to close 1,000 Chase branches on coronavirus concerns

JPMorgan Chase and Co will temporarily shut about 1,000 bank branches, roughly 20%, to protect employees and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, according to a memo the bank sent to employees Wednesday.

Beginning Thursday, only the drive-up window will be open at many of the largest U.S. bank's branches, as JPMorgan Chase became the first national lender to temporarily close operations as a precaution against the escalating health crisis.

The bank said it will pay its branch employees for their regularly-scheduled hours, even if the hours they work are reduced or the branch where they work is closed. Business bankers and home lending advisors who work at branches have the ability to work from home, according to the memo.

The bank is also offering free meals to employees of the community and consumer banking division who still have to work from the office, and is relaxing the dress code, allowing staff to work in T-shirts and sneakers.

Employees will also receive two additional paid days off, and will allow employees who had left-over vacation from 2019 to use that paid leave before June.

Thasunda Duckett, chief executive officer of Chase Consumer Banking, said that the bank is balancing "the fact that we are essential to the communities we serve" with the need to protect employees.

"We are doing everything we can to step up for our country, our customers and for all of you," Duckett wrote in the memo.