Shades of panic appeared early Saturday morning immediately after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a shock announcement for a referendum. People rushed to ATM machines withdrawing as much as they could in the fear that banks may not open, leaving people without money. Huge lines formed as people waited to withdraw as much money as possible. Those who missed last night’s referendum announcement headed to banks in the morning, however, they found many ATMs already empty.
On a more ominous note, an order was given to police for protection of ATMs in certain Athens area locations.
In a related development, the relevant public order ministry is awaiting a presidential decree approving a referendum, in order to cancel leaves for law enforcement personnel.
Beyond Athens, however, a sense of urgency was less. Indicatively, on the Cyclades island of Folegandros – a more upscale and laid-back holiday destination – an ATM was still handing out cash as of 1 p.m. (local time). Ten people were in line waiting to access the ATM, with the ratio between foreign tourists and Greeks tilting to the latter — seven Greeks and three foreigners.
In Parliament … meanwhile, lines formed outside the ATMs inside the building, which had earlier run out of money! Paraliament employees that had failed to take out money earlier rushed to the cash machined once they were replenished. The two ATMs within Parliament had been filled to the max on Friday afternoon.
The images of empty cash machines in Parliaments, lines of depositors etc. caused one very outspoken conservative deputy, former minister Adonis Georgiadis, to Tweet: “First time Left (party in Greece… they just filled ATMs that had emptied, see what’s going on … yet, I was the danger-mongerer.”
Mr. Franko told Proto Thema that he was unable to make the withdrawal he wanted. “I’ll withdraw as much as the bank allows. I’m not happy about the decision that Tsipras made. All politicians are to blame for us reaching this situation. What can the nation decide when they’ve brought us to this position?”
There are fears that what happened to Cyprus will happen to Greece. Fear and insecurity has also caused a number of citizens to rush to super markets and gas stations in the fear that there may be shortages.
Deputy Prime Minister Giannis Dragasakis and Chief Economic Spokesman Euclid Tsakalotos are meeting with ECB President Mario Draghi on Saturday.
A line of cars outside a gas station