Libraries in England will be able to reopen from 4th July as the country's lockdown measures continue to ease, Boris Johnson has announced.
The Prime Minister confirmed facilities can reopen next month, along with a range of other venues including, hairdressers, hotels, cinemas. pubs and restaurants. He also said that the two metre social distancing rule would now be changed to one metre.
“Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end,” he told the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon.
Libraries had been scheduled to reopen on that date already, and Libraries Connected has published a “recovery toolkit” to help authorities make sure the buildings are Covid-19 secure.
Many libraries were planning appointment systems to provide access to IT, exploring click-and-collect borrowing rather than browsing and home library services for vulnerable users, its c.e.o. Isobel Hunter said last month.
After Johnson's announcement, Hunter said: "Libraries have been planning for weeks for this moment - by working on our recovery toolkit and taking part in a series of webinars we hosted with staff, partners and users on reopening. Our central concern is keeping staff and users safe, so the library environment will look and feel different initially. Libraries will have a phased reopening that begins with things like order and collect and delivering books to local homes and a cautious reintroduction of browsing and IT services with a focus on moving in and out the library quickly and minimising face to face contact.
"The level of planning is painstaking and no library will reopen before it is ready. We’re also looking closely at the way bookshops have managed their reopening and have been heartened by the welcome they’ve received from their customers. We are delighted that most libraries will be welcoming back their users from 4th July as the first step in recovery of a vital service."
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