Greece debt crisis: Banks to re-open with customers expected to face queues lasting 'two or three days'

The banks were closed as Greece attempted to avert bankruptcy

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Greek banks are to re-open for the first time in three weeks, as customers are warned to expect long queues outside branches for “two or three days”.

The government has ordered banks to pull up their shutters on Monday following a country-wide closure from 29 June. The measure was imposed to stop customers withdrawing money en masse, and potentially crashing the economic system. 

While a limit on withdrawals will remain, it will be weekly instead of daily, and credit cards will once again be usable. Customers will also regain access to their safety deposit boxes. However, capital controls will stay in place.

An official at EFG Eurobank (EURBr.AT), the country's third-largest bank by assets, said the bank was expecting long queues in the first two or three days of re-opening.

“We might have some minor problems with bank checks that have expired in the last two weeks, but this is something that the government should decide on,” he told Reuters.

Louka Katseli, the head of Greece’s banking association, urged Greeks to return their money to their accounts.

She told Skai television: “Tomorrow when the banks reopen and normality is restored, let's all help our economy.

"If we take our money out of chests and from our homes - where they are not safe in any case - and we deposit them in the banks, we will strengthen the liquidity of the economy."

Monday's re-opening will co-incide with an increase in VAT on restaurant meals and public transport, which were part of the reforms creditors demanded be put in place.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reluctantly accepted reforms proposed by the country’s Eurozone creditors to avert bankruptcy. The move caused members of his leftist Syriza party to rebel, and prompted the leader to reshuffle his government.

He is now pushing for talks on the bailout agreement with European partners and the IMF to begin before elections, which Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said were likely in the autumn, as the Prime Minister’s popularity ratings remain high.

Germany’s economy ministers Sigmar Gabriel said the current deal would be more successful than those that come before it, as the European Union has considered growth and investment rather than simply austerity.