Community libraries including the Golborne branch, are being closed until the new year as Wigan Council focuses on the battle against Coronavirus in the borough.
In a statement announcing the news the council said “maintaining key services and supporting vulnerable residents” were its priorities as they respond to rising infection rates.
It said it was closing community libraries to “allow staff to shore up services critical to the immediate health concerns of residents.” This will include supporting the test and trace programme and other critical services until the new year.
Leader of the council, Councillor David Molyneux, has urged everyone to rally round their communities once again.
He said: “Earlier this year we saw an overwhelming response, highlighting the fantastic community spirit we have in our borough.
“We are again at a critical point in our efforts to combat the effects of this virus and the steps we are taking will help us prioritise key services.
“I hope everyone understands our reasoning behind taking these steps. We can all play our part to help drive down our infection rates.”
Earlier this year, Wigan Council set out its five-point plan in response to Covid-19. The priorities were: the health of all our people; support our strong communities; support our businesses; continue to work with you as a council; communicate to you.
They will remain the focus of council efforts during this second wave.
In the months since, infections rates have risen and local authorities have taken on extra responsibilities, such as administering self-isolation payments and supporting local Covid-19 regulation compliance.
Some library services will still be available
The Wigan and Leigh central libraries will remain open Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm, offering access to network computers and council services.
The council also said that, since reopening in September, visitor numbers to the borough’s community libraries have reduced on a week-to-week basis, a trend seen both regionally and nationally.
Councillor Molyneux added: “During the first wave our teams established community hubs, providing vital support to those that needed it, and hundreds of staff were redeployed to bolster our humanitarian response.
“It simply isn’t possible to offer business as usual now we are in this second wave – this move will help us focus our resources to essential services. These are decisions that have not been taken lightly.
“Please continue to Be Kind as we all work together to keep our borough safe.”