Edinburgh Council has revealed a three-stage phased plan for the reopening of its libraries and community centres from today, with the second and third stages being subject to committee approval.
The new plans outline that some community centres could open in the coming days to enable groups to get access to the buildings to run community-based services like crisis support and local food banks, followed by the first phase of library openings with committee approval. All actions will be subject to approval to make sure appropriate health and safety measures are put in place.
A report will be brought to the Policy and Sustainability Committee on Thursday 6 August where, subject to approval, it is hoped stage two will see the first phase of library openings to ensure limited city-wide access and the reopening of specific community centres to support the wider opening of schools and provision of out of school care. It will consider how the Council balances access to important community facilities with the latest public health guidance and resulting costs from putting in place additional cleaning and other steps required to open in a safe way.
If approved by committee, the third stage for w/c Monday 14 September will see further libraries and community centres re-open based on latest public health guidance.
Council Leader Adam Mcvey said:
We all appreciate our community centres and libraries and we’re keen to get them open for our communities again, however we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic and need to make sure that any buildings we do open is carried out in a consistent and safe way.
We have a three-stage approach to the reopening of Libraries and Community Centres prioritising safety and we look forward to announcing more details in the coming weeks.
It will be great to see libraries open again but it’s also been heartening to see such a positive response to our digital service which has remained in operation throughout lockdown. We’ve seen the number of downloads of e-books, e-magazines and e-newspapers continue to increase with over 1.5 million downloads in 2019/20 and in April we saw an increase of 64% (ebooks), 67% (eaudio books) and 118% (emagazines and enewspapers) on the same month last year. We hope that this expansion of use of digital services helps more people in our communities continue to access these services going forward.
Council Depute Leader Cammy Day added:
As with all our buildings, reopening them during the Covid-19 pandemic requires additional considerations to make sure they are safe for all to use including additional cleaning and reorganising the space.
Each building has its own specific considerations which means that some buildings will be able to open sooner than others. Right now we are focussed on getting our schools open for the first day of term and a number of other buildings, including community centres, will be a key part of this work.
We know how important our services and spaces are to the entire community and, subject to Government guidelines, we will be opening additional buildings over the coming months.
We appreciate the patience and support from residents while we work to restart our services and we look forward to welcoming them back.