Banks and ATM machines were shut throughout Greece Monday on the first day of capital controls, a dramatic twist in the country’s five-year financial saga.
Despite the closures, pensioners lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would have access to their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday.
The bank closures came after Greeks rushed to ATMs over the weekend to withdraw money following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ surprise call for a referendum on creditor proposals for the reforms Greece should take to gain access to blocked bailout funds.
The referendum has been set for Sunday, and the government has been advocating Greeks vote against the proposals.
The capital controls are meant to staunch the flow of money out of Greek banks and spur the country’s creditors to offer concessions before Greece’s international bailout program expires Tuesday.
Once that happens, Greece loses access to the remaining 7.2 billion euros of rescue loans, and is unlikely to be able to meet a 1.6 billion-euro debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund due the same day.