Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Will libraries close in second lockdown? – The Sun

BOOK-LOVERS are keen to know if libraries will remain open in the government's new national lockdown strategy.

Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that England will go into lockdown from Thursday, November 5, but will we still be able to visit our local library?

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The PM revealed that pubs, restaurants and many shops will have to close from Thursday.

So far, there has been no news on whether libraries will be allowed to remain open.

It would depend on whether the government declared libraries as 'essential services'.

If this happened, some library services may be able to remain open after Thursday.

When did libraries reopen?

Libraries were allowed to reopen in the third phase of the government's "COVID-19 recovery strategy" from July 4.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes, along with hairdressers, museums, cinemas and places of worship, were also able to reopen on this date.

The reopening of libraries in July was subject to official data showing COVID-19 cases were on the decline, with the government warning it could reimpose or extend restrictions if necessary.

The situation around these businesses is changing fast, and detailed advice will also change over time.

How do social distancing rules work in libraries?

Social distancing in libraries should be based on risk assessments, carried out with staff, unions and health and safety teams and must be focused on public health guidance and be frequently revisited as risks evolve.

Re-opening in July was a phased process based on risk management, availability of staff and resources, and local priorities of need.

There was also the need for staff to wear PPE and a limit on the number of people allowed in a library at any one time.

A 'click and collect' service is also available at many libraries so members can order a book online or by telephone and arrange to collect it at a certain time

Vulnerable and disadvantaged users may not be able to physically access libraries while the pandemic remains, so thought should be given to meeting their needs through alternative arrangements.

 

Planning should anticipate the need to withdraw or suspend services, should public health and government guidance require it, or if there is a shortage of staff and resources.

How long will it last?

If libraries are to close again, people would not be able to visit one until after December 2.

The government are set to review the current restrictions in four weeks time.

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