A further 44 libraries are set to reopen across Essex following their temporary closure during coronavirus lockdown.

Essex County Council (ECC) initially planned to only reopen 16 libraries on July 6 – another 44 sites are now set to follow on from July 13 onwards.

Plans for the remaining 14 libraries will be regularly reviewed to assess how ECC can re-open them in line with current government guidance around social distancing.

Cllr Susan Barker, cabinet member for Essex Libraries, said: “We are so pleased to have taken another step forward to re-opening all of our libraries and are looking forward to welcoming people back soon.

“It has been vital to plan to re-open sites in stages in order to ensure that we could carry out appropriate risk assessments and put procedures in place to ensure our customers and employees remain safe.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in getting us to this point and also our customers for their patience.”

Services offered at libraries will be adapted to support safety measures and social distancing guidelines.

Residents will be able to return and borrow books, as well as have some limited time to browse the shelves.

In line with government guidance, the number of customers allowed in a library at any one time will be reduced.

Customers will be asked to use the self-service machines to issue and return their items and make payments.

Public computers, printing facilities and additional services such as recycling bags will be temporarily unavailable.

Among the initial16 libraries that will open from 6 July are: Brentwood, Epping, and Harlow.

Among the additional 44 libraries opening from July 13 are: Chigwell, Chipping Ongar, Loughton, North Weald, Old Harlow, and Waltham Abbey.

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