MidCoast Council has welcomed the news that many of the COVID-19 related restrictions imposed across the State will start to lift from 1 June with a range of Council services to reopen to the community from next Monday.
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The State Government’s announcement that regional travel restrictions will be eased and libraries and galleries can reopen from that date signals a shift back to a more normal way of life for MidCoast residents.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the community back into our spaces,” Council’s Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell said.
From Monday 1 June, Council’s customer service centres in Taree, Forster, Gloucester, Stroud and Tea Gardens will reopen to the community. A number of libraries, visitor information centres and the Manning Regional Art Gallery will also open from this date.
“When customers visit our customer service centres or libraries they will see some changes,” Mr De Szell explained.
“Guards have been put in place to protect both the community and our staff, and hand sanitiser stations will be available in all our public spaces.
“We do ask our community to continue to practice social distancing, and not to come into our facilities if they are unwell or have recently been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.”
To further protect the more vulnerable members of the community during the initial stages of transitioning out of the COVID lockdown, Mr De Szell said the difficult decision had been made to delay the return of volunteers to Council spaces.
“Our volunteers do such amazing work for us in so many areas, and while some of the outdoor volunteering has continued, we are delaying the return of volunteers to our indoor spaces such as libraries, visitor information centres and the gallery for the time being.”
Mr De Szell said this measure was in place to protect the health of the volunteers, many of whom are in the at risk age bracket.
“We know our volunteers love what they do, and we value their contribution, however it is important to keep everyone safe.”
As a result MidCoast Council Library branches in Taree, Forster, Wingham, Harrington, Gloucester, Bulahdelah, Hallidays Point, Stroud and Tea Gardens will open, while branches in Nabiac and Old Bar will remain closed for the time being, as they are volunteer run. There will be reduced services in libraries, for example meeting rooms, public computers and newspapers will not be available, as part of the first phase on reopening.
Delaying the return of volunteers will also result in The Manning Regional Art Gallery opening for reduced hours and days in the initial stages.
Visitor information centres in Forster and Gloucester will also open on 1 June to provide support to those visitors expected in the region following the lifting of travel restrictions within NSW.
Venues including the Manning Entertainment Centre and community halls will remain closed at this point in time, as per the requirements of the State Government’s COVID-19 Public Health Order.