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Overseas Health Insurance News: Cyprus banks to stay closed until Thursday

Expatriates on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus are having to cope with the prospect of banks being closed until Thursday as an addition to their woes.

The unprecedented move has been enacted by the government in order to prevent a run on cash after it was announced that a levy is to be charged on all accounts to help secure a bail-out for the country.

A one-off payment of 6.75 per cent will be taken from those with less than €100,000 (£86,500) in their accounts and 9.9 per cent from people with more than this sum.

While the chancellor George Osbourne has agreed to compensate all British soldiers and civil servants based in Cyprus, the majority of expats will not be so lucky.

Around 59,000 Brits living in the country are set to lose £170 million collectively as the Cypriot government seeks a £8.7 billion bail-out to save its ailing economy.

Groups of people could be seen travelling around the island on Sunday in an attempt to withdraw money, but to no avail.

Nicos Anastasiades, the president of Cyprus, had previously pledged not to accept a bail-out which required a levy on the people, with the shock announcement taking everyone by surprise.

Howard Skelton, a Briton living in Limassol, told the Telegraph: "Dick Turpin has been resurrected from the grave. The feeling is people are being robbed by the government."

Cyprus' banks were already scheduled to be closed today (Monday) as it is a national holiday, but the chances of them opening again soon seem slim.

Sharon Bowles, the chairwoman of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and MEP for South East England, corroborated this, stating that a run on cash is feared.

As well as preventing expats and locals from moving their money in order to avoid the levy, it is also restricting their day-to-day lives.

Nobody can buy anything and businesses are suffering from worse cashflow issues than usual, with the prospect of ATMs running dry as soon as they start operating again.

There is particular frustration from expats who help to contribute to the local economy and believe the problems are not of their making.

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