Cyprus banks reopen – but stock exchange will remain closed

by Jill Treanor, Helena Smith and Josephine Moulds, the guardian  |  published on March 29, 2013

Cyprus’s banks returned to business on Thursday with only limited queues (video), amid strict controls to stop people withdrawing all their savings and triggering a catastrophic bank run.

The country had feared a stampede on the banks after a 12-day hiatus while the government negotiated a €10bn (£8.4bn) bailout package to avoid financial collapse. But high street banks were not inundated as they reopened, despite the fact that wealthy savers could face losses of at least 40%.

As planned, banks closed around 6pm (4pm GMT). The Cyprus stock exchange, however, remained shut for the day, having abandoned plans to reopen less than an hour before trading was due to start.

Hopes that Cyprus’s new capital controls would be lifted in a week’s time were dashed tonight, as foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides predited they would last for “about a month”.

The day began with extra security being been drafted in from G4S to manage any trouble, and some banks limiting the number of people allowed in each branch.

“I want to cash my salary,” said Christina Andreou, wielding a cheque for €1,300 at a Bank of Cyprus branch in Nicosia.

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