The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued detailed guidelines to financial services firms in response to the quickly-spreading coronavirus outbreak.
The regulator said it would postpone activity it did not deem critical to protecting consumers and market integrity in the short-term, to give firms more time to focus on customers.
As a result, it said it would extend the closing date for responses to its open consultation papers and calls for input until 1 October 2020, and reschedule "most" other planned work.
We welcome firms taking initiatives going beyond usual business practices to support their customers"
The watchdog also lavished praises on institutions that have permitted customers to withdraw funds from savings accounts that usually invite a fine for taking cash out early. "We welcome firms taking initiatives going beyond usual business practices to support their customers."
The statement said: "Our rules give firms the ability to consider their arrangements and customers' circumstances. We welcome firms reviewing their current arrangements to address the evolving situation while managing the risks to their employees, customers and the impact on the market.
"We are in regular contact with firms to assess their current position, and expect firms to be taking reasonable steps to ensure they are prepared to meet the challenges coronavirus could pose to customers and staff, particularly through their business continuity plans.
"We expect firms to provide strong support and service to customers during this period. They should be clear and transparent and provide support as consumers and small businesses face challenges at this time. We also expect firms to manage their financial resilience and actively manage their liquidity.
"Firms should report to us immediately if they believe they will be in difficulty."
All customer complaints should be resolved within eight weeks (15 days for payments firms). In case they cannot, customers must be given written explanation regarding the same.
"However, where the pandemic prevents these firms should contact us; we understand the pressures firms will be under," the FCA added.