CoronavirusNews

 Greggs postpones reopening of stores

Greggs has reportedly backtracked on plans to reopen 20 of its sites next week, amid fears that it could encourage crowds to gather during the nationwide lockdown. 

The bakery chain had initially planned to 20 stores for delivery in the Newcastle area as part of a controlled trial. The trial, due to begin next Monday, was set to run for two weeks. 

At the time, a spokesperson said: “We want to play our part in getting the nation back up and running again so we are planning to conduct a limited trial with volunteers to explore how we can reopen our shops with new measures in place that keep our colleagues and customers as safe as we can when we re-open at scale.” 

However, a spokesperson has now said that the public trials will not go ahead due to a “significant interest” in the 20-shop trial, and the risk that “excessive numbers” of customers could plan to visit Greggs.

The group will now initially operate the trials behind closed doors “in order to effectively test our new operational safety measures”. 

It will review the progression of the closed-door trials and will later invite walk-in customers into shops “only when we can be confident of doing so in the controlled manner we intended”. 

If the trial is successful, Greggs could begin to move the reopening process into phase two, with 700 shops reopening.

It warned that phase two would only be possible once the government begins to relax lockdown measures, however. It was working on the basis that schools would reopen on 1 June, allowing shops to reopen on 8 June.

The final phase of its initial plan was to open all shops with new operational measures by 1 July.

Greggs had initially closed all 2,050 sites on 24 March, despite the government allowing takeaway outlets to stay open.

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