As Texas businesses head into the next chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin Public Library will not be joining them.
On May 1, libraries will be among the businesses that are allowed to open after the statewide stay-in-place order expires on April 30. However APL, which oversees more than 20 libraries, including the Central Austin Library, the Recycled Reads Bookstore, and the Austin History Center, has announced it will not be among those reopening.
"The Library will reopen when it can do so in a manner that does not jeopardize the health and safety of its employees and the community it serves," said an APL spokesperson via email. "With the help of the City of Austin and Austin Public Health and its partner agencies, Austin Public Library will continue to monitor public health recommendations as they pertain to reopening City facilities and develop its reopening plan."
This includes physical buildings and material drop-off boxes, both of which have been closed since March.
Book lovers should not despair, however. APL is still offering its Virtual Library, complete with e-books and streaming media available for use with a library card. And those retro book lovers who prefer physical copies can order books for delivery through shops like BookPeople and Malvern Books or curbside through Half Price Books.
Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that certain businesses, including restaurants, movie theaters, retail shops, and libraries, may reopen at 25 percent capacity and with certain hygiene restrictions in place. If Texas sees a slowdown in COVID-19 during this initial reopening, additional businesses such as bars, hair salons, and gyms may be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.
"My executive order to stay at home is set to expire on April 30 and that executive stay-at-home order has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19, so I will let it expire as scheduled and set a new course," Abbott said during an April 27 press conference. "We want to responsibly reopen using safe standards for businesses and their employees, as well as their customers."