Cypriots were almost holding their breath, their banking system like a house of cards on Thursday. They felt on the edge of a precipice, many said, having seen much larger Greece suffer financial twists and turns for years.
One businessman said trade was crawling: “Everyone is trying to save their cash and not buy anything. We’ll have to wait and see. People are taking money out of the ATMs to shop for basic household things.”
With paper money in increasingly short supply, a petrol station owner was telling non-Cypriots things would grind to a halt anywhere if it goes on too long: “Next week comes the problem. In your country [as well], if the banks close for a week or two it’s bankruptcy.”
Some Cypriots feel they have been more or less held up at gunpoint, like daylight robbery. Others range from realistic to fatalistic to patriotic.
A lawyer outside a bank said: “To save the country’s economy, we are willing to contribute of our own money, because [otherwise] everything is going to collapse.”
For many Cypriots, the atmosphere was sobering and oppressive.