FirstBank closes lobbies to limit COVID spread and more business news – Chattanooga Times Free Press


COVID spread leads bank to close lobbies

With COVID-19 infections still on the rise, one of Tennessee’s biggest banks returned Wednesday to limiting lobby access to its branches by appointment only.

FirstBank is returning to is drive-thru only service with lobby access available by appointment in most branches across Tennessee.

«With the recent spike in COVID numbers and the decline in available hospital beds, FirstBank wants to be a good partner to our communities and do our part in helping to slow the spread of the virus,» said Jeanie Rittenberry, director of marketing and communications at FirstBank.

Other banks said they continue to practice social distance, sanitation of common areas and encourage persons to use online or drive-through services to limit the spread of the virus.

«Our branch operations continue to evolve to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, but all of our Chattanooga branches are remaining open at this point,» said JV Vaughn, market president for SunTrust Bank.

But most other banks are not returning the lobby restrictions implemented at most banks this spring.

Walmart apologizes for critical tweet

Walmart apologized Wednesday for a tweet that called Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley a sore loser for contesting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

The now deleted tweet, «Go ahead. Get your 2 hour debate. #soreloser,» was mistakenly sent by a member of Walmart’s social media team who meant to publish it on their personal account, the company said.

The hashtag #BoycottWalmart began to trend on Twitter shortly after it appeared on the company’s official Twitter account.

The tweet was a response to Hawley’s announcement that he plans to raise objections next week when Congress meets to affirm Biden’s victory. The objections won’t alter the election results, but it could delay the certification of Biden’s win.

«We have removed the post and have no intention of commenting on the subject of certifying the electoral college,» Walmart said in a prepared statement. «We apologize to Senator Hawley for this error and any confusion about our position.»

Ticketmaster pays $10 million fine for hack

Ticketmaster agreed on Wednesday to pay a $10 million fine to escape prosecution over criminal charges accusing the company of hacking into the computer system of a startup rival.

A judge signed off on the deal in federal court in New York City. The concert ticket seller for big-name acts had been facing multiple charges of conspiracy to commit hacking and wire fraud targeting a Brooklyn-based company called Songkick.

Ticketmaster said in a statement on Wednesday that the conduct involved only two employees who were fired in 2017.

Prosecutors alleged that Ticketmaster had sought to infiltrate systems created by Songkick for artists seeking to sell seats in advance of general ticket sales. They said the goal was to dissuade Songkick’s clients from working with the company.

British parliament approves Brexit deal

Britain’s House of Commons voted resoundingly on Wednesday to approve a trade deal with the European Union, paving the way for an orderly break with the bloc that will finally complete the U.K.’s long and divisive Brexit journey.

With just a day to spare, lawmakers voted 521-73 in favor of the agreement sealed between the U.K. government and the EU last week.

Brexit enthusiasts in Parliament praised it as a reclamation of independence from the bloc. Pro-Europeans lamented its failure to preserve seamless trade with Britain’s biggest economic partner. But the vast majority in the divided Commons agreed that it was better than the alternative of a chaotic rupture with the EU.

The deal will become British law once is passes through the unelected House of Lords later in the day and gets formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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