The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to grind to a halt, with most shops, schools and public areas being closed. For months we’ve been advised to stay inside as much as possible and avoid direct contact with others, but now, as infection rates start to decline, at least in certain countries, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that libraries across the country will be able to reopen as of 4th July.
Early next month, certain facilities will become open once again to the public, including hotels, cinemas, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and libraries. It was also confirmed that the two metre social distancing rule will be reduced to one metre.
Speaking to the House of Commons, Johnson said: “Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end.” In preparation for the reopening of libraries, Libraries Connected ‘recovery toolkit’ to help ensure that the buildings remain free of COVID-19.
As The Bookseller reports, following Johnson’s announcements, Libraries Connected CEO Isobel 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.”
No doubt it will still be sometime before life returns to normal, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.