Greek banks to suspend loan repayments to help individual borrowers

ATHENS, March 19 (Reuters) - Greek banks will offer individual borrowers hit by the coronavirus crisis a three-month freeze on loan repayments as part of relief efforts to help them cope with the economic shutdown, their association said on Thursday.

The move follows a similar decision earlier this week to suspend loan repayments for businesses for six months.

The bank association said the relief will apply strictly to individual borrowers who have been demonstrably affected by the crisis as a result of government measures to suspend operations in various sectors.

To qualify, their loans must be performing, meaning they have been regularly making payments.

Borrowers who are not affected by the coronavirus crisis “should continue to regularly service their loans”, the bank association said.

Greece has so far reported 418 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and six fatalities. Authorities have closed restaurants, bars, shops, playgrounds, schools, universities and gyms to stem the spread of the virus.

Greek banks have been working to reduce a pile of about 75 billion euros ($82.65 billion) of bad loans, the legacy of a 10-year financial crisis that shrank its economy by a quarter. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Catherine Evans)