Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government may not be in a rush to close schools, but local councils are responding to the Coronavirus threat by shutting shop of non-essential services including libraries, public swimming pools, gyms, art galleries and more.
Melbourne City Council has just announced that it will close its public libraries, swimming pools, gyms and arts venues from today until at least the end of the month.
Lord mayor Sally Capp said the move was instigated to help slow the spread of Coronavirus within the community of the City of Melbourne, as reported in the Age.
The council has announced that it will close six libraries and four pools and gyms from 2pm today. A statement read they are expecting to re-open on 31 March, but the closure may be extended further.
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A spokesperson for the Municipal Association of Victoria, which represents councils across the state, said it had not yet advised councils to close libraries and gyms but was following all advice from state health authorities.
Many other councils are likely to follow suit as the local government sector reacts to the spread of the COVID-19. However the extent of action will be up to the discretion of local councils.
Woollahra council, in Sydney, has also just announced the temporary closure of Woollahra Libraries to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A statement from the library read:
“To help protect our community from coronavirus, all Woollahra Libraries will be closed to the public from 16 March until further notice.”
Libraries affected by the closures include Double Bay, Watsons Bay Library and Paddington Library.
“This decision hasn’t been taken lightly as we know our libraries are a much loved part of our community; but with several hundred people visiting each day, we have a duty of care to protect our community by implementing social distancing measures,” the statement continued.
However, the City of Sydney Library is not shutting its doors.
“As a precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19 we have decided to cancel all Library events, including talks, Heritage and Gallery tours, storytime sessions and learning programs from today until Monday 13 April,” a statement read.
The Library will otherwise continue to operate as normal for the time being.
Other Services Still In Continue
The Melbourne City Council has further advised that all other services, such as waste and recycling, parking enforcement, and its planning and building departments, will continue as normal. In addition, childcare centres will remain open.
Councillor Capp said none of the council’s staff members at any libraries or sports centres had been diagnosed with coronavirus but that closing them would protect workers and slow the spread of the virus within the community.
“Our libraries, recreation and cultural centres are important community meeting places so this is not a decision we take lightly,” she said.
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