A PHASED return is being considered for Bury's libraries - with a click and collect service set to be trialled initially.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated that libraries could reopen from last Friday - but Bury Council is taking a more cautious approach.

Senior staff are expected to return tomorrow to being finalising plans to reopen on a limited basis later in the month.

Currently two of the borough's libraries - Radcliffe and Ramsbottom - are being used as community hubs for the coronavirus pandemic and will remain so.

But proposals have been drawn up by the borough council which would bring Bury and Prestwich libraries gradually back online.

In a briefing note Donna Ball, the council's operations director, said: " For Bury and Prestwich Libraries we are proposing a phased reopening that will allow us to open safely following the guidelines; support the staff in their return to work and allow some library staff to continue to support the community hubs if required."

Library staff would then return the following week and it is envisaged books and other items would be returned from around July 20.

Returns would be quarantined for 72 hours, according to the authority, and there would still be no public access.

A planned 'click and collect' service for items would be rolled out from July 27, as well as the home delivery service restarting.

Pre-ordained collection times, for instance between 10am and noon and 2pm and 4pm, have been suggested to control demand.

And pre-booked computer sessions, on a limited basis and with strict social distancing, look set to begin from August 3.

Hand-cleaning stations will be installed and some reconfiguration of library floor space may be required to observe proper distancing requirements.

Twenty-four out of the library service's 33-strong rota are presently working in community hubs so proposals have been drawn up to reintegrate workers as required.

Ms Ball added: "Going forward we hope to offer time limited browsing, we will continue the click and collect service to support those residents who do not feel comfortable

accessing public spaces."

Further consideration needs to be given to whether the archives at the library can be reopened, councillors have been told, as it is located in the still-closed museum and art gallery basement.

And public spaces in libraries, previously offered to community groups for activities and classes, will remain closed for now.