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
Cyprus Banks Finally Reopening
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)

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. (More Cyprus stories.)

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