VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — City officials have found a way to safely reopen Virginia Beach public libraries to the public even as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the city.
All 10 branches of the Virginia Beach public library system have been closed since March due to the pandemic, but today five of the ten locations will be open.
Those include the Bayside, Central, Kempsville, Princess Anne and Wahab Public Law Library branches.
Eva Poole, the Director of Libraries in Virginia Beach says that while some of their locations are now open, there are new policies in place due to COVID-19.
“People are only allowed to be inside for an hour. They are also required to wear a mask. If you bring a book in, that book will be placed in quarantine for 72 hours before it is checked out by someone else," Poole said.
Aisles and pathways in the buildings will be marked for one-way travel only and sneeze guards will be added at customer service stations.
The reason these five locations are opening first is due to size. They are the largest in the area and because there's a lot more space within them, it's easier to manage social distancing.
Visitors can browse and check out materials, use computers and printers and apply for library cards. In-person services, however, are limited to those activities. People can still opt to check out books using the pickup options online.
Four other locations -- Great Neck, Oceanfront, Pungo-Blackwater and Windsor Woods -- are scheduled to reopen next month on August 10. That reopening date could change in response to COVID-19. The remaining branch which is the Tidewater Community College (TCC) and City Joint-Use Library will remain closed until further notice.
Other safety precautions include:
- Limited numbers of people will be admitted in the libraries at a time, based on building size.
- Signs and decals will reiterate CDC guidelines for social distancing and hand washing.
- Spaces and furnishings inside the libraries may be unavailable, including the children’s rooms at Kempsville and Princess Anne libraries and the teen room at Central Library.
- Increased cleaning and sanitizing practices are being implemented.
“We have worked closely with Virginia Beach leadership to create a phased reopening plan focused on staff and customer safety,” said Director of Libraries Eva Poole. “We have missed seeing our customers, and we know they have missed visiting the library. We’re excited to begin resuming vital services that our community members need and want.”