Knitters and crocheters at the Port Clements Library meet on Wednesday, Nov. 11 to work on some of the 50 rainbow blankets that will yarn-bomb Port Clements Canada Days next year. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)                                All Haida Gwaii Libraries will be closed as of March 16 at 8 p.m. in precautionary measures against COVID-19. All programs are cancelled effective immediately. Seen here are knitters and crocheters at the Port Clements Library Nov. 11, 2018. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Knitters and crocheters at the Port Clements Library meet on Wednesday, Nov. 11 to work on some of the 50 rainbow blankets that will yarn-bomb Port Clements Canada Days next year. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer) All Haida Gwaii Libraries will be closed as of March 16 at 8 p.m. in precautionary measures against COVID-19. All programs are cancelled effective immediately. Seen here are knitters and crocheters at the Port Clements Library Nov. 11, 2018. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Haida Gwaii libraries to close

Returns are not required for six weeks

Haida Gwaii libraries in Sandpit, Masset, Port Clemens and Queen Charlottte, as well as in Bella Coola,will close on March 16 in precautionary measures against COVID-19. Due dates will be extended by six weeks and borrowers are asked not to return items until branches reopen.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and in light of the recommendations put forward today by the BC Chief Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is closing all branches to the public as of 8 pm tonight,” a Vancouver Island Regional Library, said in a press release.

READ MORE: ‘It’s going to be hard’: B.C. bans gatherings of 50+ people to slow COVID-19 transmission

“We are monitoring this evolving situation very closely based on the direction we heard today…to limit out contact with other people, limit gatherings, we thought it was the best decision to close the libraries for the health and safety of our customers, staff and the public as well, ” David Carson, director of corporate communications and strategic initiatives said

When asked by The Haida Gwaii Observer if an exception would be considered for Haida Gwaii due to it’s location and population the answer was no.

“Not at this time. We are going to monitor the situation closely, but at this time all branches are closing, ” said Carlson.

“These are well used branches in their communities. We recognize it is going to be an impact on people, but in weighing the consequences of not taking action, we thought the best course of action was to close all of our branches at this time, ” Carlson said.

VIRL has also decided to cancel all remaining programs effective immediately.

READ MORE: Islanders quiet about Masset library plan

“In coming to this difficult decision, we paid particular attention to the Province’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people, and the strong appeal for everyone to stay home during this critical time,” said Rosemary Bonanno, executive director of VIRL.

“In this rapidly changing environment, we believe this is the best decision for our staff, customers, and larger public.”

Throughout the closure, VIRL’s eLibrary — which includes thousands of ebooks and audiobooks, scores of downloadable music, and hours of streaming movies of TV — will remain open for anyone with a VIRL library card.

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