Cyprus Banks Finally Reopen —for 6 Hours

Customers face heavy restrictions on transactions

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 28, 2013 2:40 AM CDT | Updated Mar 28, 2013 7:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – After nearly two weeks shut amid a bailout scramble, Cyprus has just cautiously reopened its banks for six hours today—but it's not exactly business as usual. Trucks full of cash arrived at the central bank last night as rifle-bearing police and a helicopter stood guard. Private security guards will keep watch at branches, the AP reports. With thousands likely to seek funds today, the institutions are installing a range of tough restrictions to avoid a bank run, Reuters reports. Customers can't take out more than 300 euros, or about $383, per day, and checks can't be cashed. Leaving the island? You can't take more than about $3,800 with you.

Credit and debit card transactions, meanwhile, are limited to some $6,400. All this has worried economists, who say the restrictions could create a "Cyprus euro" that's less valuable than the normal eurozone currency. But officials say a quick removal of the limits, scheduled for just four days, will prevent that. A majority of Reuters-polled economists, however, expect them to last months. Banks opened at noon local time, the BBC notes, but customers were arriving hours earlier, tweets the BBC's Tim Willcox.

An armed police officer guards several trucks carrying containers after arriving at the country’s Central Bank in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
People wait outside a branch of Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia, Cyprus, Thursday, March 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
People wait outside a Coop bank branch in Nicosia, Cyprus, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Bank branches across the country were being replenished with cash.   (AP Photo/Philippos Christou)
A private security guard gestures outside a Laiki bank branch in Nicosia, Cyprus, Thursday, March 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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