Cypriot banks reopen with tight restrictions

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Banks in Cyprus have reopened to customers for the first time in nearly two weeks, with people now able to access their accounts, albeit with strict restrictions on transactions.

Large lines had formed outside bank branches, particularly those of Laiki, which is to be restructured, before they opened at noon. Some Laiki branches in central Nicosia had not opened exactly on time, with customers waiting patiently outside.

Cash withdrawals will be limited to 300 euros (£255) per person each day. No cheques will be cashed, although people will be able to deposit them in their accounts, according to a ministerial decree on Wednesday night.

The banks will be open for six hours and the controls will be in place for four days.

Banks have been shut since March 16 while politicians wrangled over how to come up with enough funds to qualify for an international bailout. That agreement was finally reached in Brussels early on Monday.

Guards from a private security firm were reinforcing police outside some ATMs and banks in the capital, Nicosia. Controls on financial transactions include limiting limiting payments abroad to 5,000 euros (£4,200).