BOOK lovers will finally be allowed back into some of the county's libraries from next month.

Maldon will be among the first wave to of libraries to reopen on July 6, county council bosses have confirmed.

Essex County Council says it is preparing a phased approach to opening the centres.

It will see 16 libraries reopen from July 6, including Maldon, Chelmsford, Witham, Braintree and Colchester.

County Hall says the initial 16 sites were selected as they also provide registration services.

Social distancing will be in place and regular cleaning will be carried out.

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

The number of customers allowed in a library at any one time will need to be reduced in line with government guidance.

Customers will be asked to use the self-service machines to borrow and return items and to pay any charges.

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

County Hall culture boss Susan Barker said: “We are keen to reopen libraries when we can, but libraries are open access public areas and the safety of customers and staff is paramount.

“More libraries will re-open when we are confident we can do so safely.

“We would encourage everyone to continue to use the online library resources which have proved to be a big hit with the residents of Essex in these uncertain times.”

It is hoped most of the council’s libraries will be able to reopen by mid August.

However County Hall said this is subject to the sites being safe and staff being available.

Some team members are unable to work due to shielding and support requirements, while others have been redeployed to help the most vulnerable across the county.

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