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Bank of England tells banks to keep branches open

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - The Bank of England told banks and building societies to keep branches open wherever possible, after the government ordered the shutdown of almost all non-essential businesses open to the public.

"Our current advice to banks and building societies is that they should keep branches and contact centres open, where possible, as they are deemed essential for civil and commercial functions," the BoE said.

"We also encourage banks and building societies to take the necessary precautions to keep their staff and customers safe, in particular following National Health Service guidance," it added.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Estelle Shirbon)