PLANS are being made to re-open libraries in Newport,  Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, but they will remain closed in Monmouthshire and Torfaen for the immediate future.

The Welsh Government has told councils they can start planning to re-open libraries and recycling centres as part of minor changes announced to lockdown restrictions last week.

Aneurin Leisure Trust, which runs libraries in Blaenau Gwent, is preparing to re-open libraries in the county borough.

“Following the Welsh Government’s announcement we’re delighted to advise our customers that we are developing plans to re-open the libraries across Blaenau Gwent,” a spokeswoman for the trust said.

“MAALD (Museums, Archives, Arts and Libraries Division of Welsh Government) is working closely with Public Health Wales to ensure the safety of both our customers and staff to enable us to re-open our services as soon as possible.”

Newport City Council said it is also preparing to re-open its libraries “as soon as possible” – but only when it is safe for customers and staff – and with measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

These could include fewer customers entering the libraries at a time and changes to opening times to ensure social distancing.

Caerphilly council’s cabinet is considering a phased re-introduction of library services, “with an emphasis on public and staff safety.”

A spokesman for the council added: “We, like other councils, have temporarily redeployed many of our library staff to assist vulnerable residents in the community and it is important that we have sufficient resources to continue this work.”

But Monmouthshire and Torfaen councils have said there are no immediate plans to re-open libraries as staff have been re-deployed to support priority services.

Cllr Paul Jordan, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for governance and law, said the council does not “judge a visit to a library to be essential” at present, but the issue will be kept under review.

“The staff have been redeployed to supported shielded and vulnerable groups, to support the authority-wide volunteering effort and to assist in processing business grants,” he said.

“These are all key strategic priorities for the council and we feel the staff are better left to these tasks for now.”

Similarly, a spokesman for Torfaen council said staff have been moved to support the authority’s emerging arrangements for contact tracing which is “a critical importance.”

“Because of this we have no immediate plan to re-open library buildings,” the spokesman said.