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Ukranian credit unions reopen doors after 17-day coronavirus shutdown

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Credit unions in Ukraine are open again after being forced to shut their doors to members for more than two weeks as a result of the coronavirus.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine forced all credit unions in the country to close on March 17 since Ukranian credit unions do not offer online financial services and in-person interactions could further the spread of COVID-19. The average Ukrainian CU member is also over the age of 50, putting them at additional risk of contracting the virus.

The order mandated that all CUs would remain closed until at least April 24, but that ban was lifted on April 2 as the result of joint advocacy efforts from affiliates of the World Council of Credit Unions, national regulators and other stakeholders.

“The shutdown was having a negative impact on credit union performance and credit union members, most of whom were not financially prepared for such a shutdown,” WOCCU said in a news release.

WOCCU’s Credit for Agriculture Producers' Project team and member associations launched an advocacy campaign to support the affected credit unions. Specifically, the coalition advocated that amendments be added to the Cabinet of Minsters’ original resolution that would help the CUs reopen.

The resolution allows credit unions to continue their operations under the condition that staff members and those that visit the credit union are provided with personal protective equipment. That means credit unions must supply either face masks or respirators, even if those supplies are self-made. Face and eye protection were emphasized, along with compliance with sanitary and safety measures for the facility.

Ukraine is home to 78 credit unions serving over 500,000 members, according to WOCCU data from April 2019, the most recent information available.

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