Macau’s public libraries reopened on Monday after being closed for over a month due to the COVID-19 epidemic, attracting residents to resume their habit of reading the newspapers there and also to make enquiries as some were not aware of the special arrangements that the libraries are taking for their novel coronavirus prevention measures.
According to a statement on the Macau Public Library website on Saturday, the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) has decided to reopen 12 of its public libraries, mainly the newspaper and periodicals reading areas and the book lending and reservation services.
However, other areas such as the multimedia rooms, the Macau Collection Room at the Central Library, children’s and other reading areas, self-study rooms, and group discussion rooms of the libraries remain closed for the time being.
Some users headed to the Central Library in Praça do Tap Seac on Monday, which had been closed since the Chinese New Year holiday. To get into the library each person has to wear a facemask, submit a digital health declaration form first, then get their temperature checked, before getting a “service ticket”, which allows them to enter the library.
According to a Central Library staff member, surnamed Lou, the “service ticket” is a crowd control measure for the library. Lou said that if the number of users using the library exceeds the limit the library has set, they would be required to queue outside the library until patrons inside leave before someone else can go in.
A senior citizen arrived at the entrance of the library on Monday only to find out that it was temporarily closed for cleaning, telling the security guard he wanted to return a book.
Some people enquired about the libraries’ special arrangements.
Lou told the Macau Post Daily on Monday that as it was the first day since the closure, there were not many library users on Monday afternoon, pointing out that many seniors like to go to libraries to read newspapers as part of their daily life.
Lou said that “the reading hall for reading newspapers and periodicals on the first floor can accommodate up to 50 people with a one metre space between each person, and the self-study area is set so that each visitor is separated with a 1.5 metre of space, which is more than what the government requires, and there are open windows to provide ventilation”.
Some bookshelves have been covered, and some areas have been blocked. Lou said that this was to prevent users from touching the books. If users want to read or borrow a book, they have to make an online reservation beforehand. The library will disinfect the books and then notify the users to collect the book(s) they reserved.
As for returning the books, readers can use the self-service machine at the door of the library.
According to the Macau Public Library statement, during the libraries’ opening hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays), there are two 30-minute-slots from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for cleaning and disinfection, during which all patrons have to leave the premises, while reading tables are cleaned and disinfected every hour.
The statement reminded citizens to pay attention to the fact that the opening hours of libraries located inside public parks depend on the opening hours of each particular park.