Greggs has postponed plans to reopen some of its stores next week over fears it could lead to crowds.
The bakery chain – renowned for its vegan sausage rolls – shut all of its 2,050 outlets when the UK went into coronavirus lockdown at the end of March, even though the government allowed takeaways to continue to operate.
Earlier this week, Greggs said it planned to reopen 20 shops in the Newcastle area from next Monday in a trial to see if it can operate effectively with social distancing measures as the COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
However, in a rethink, a spokesman for the firm said: “Due to significant interest in our 20-shop trial, and the risk that excessive numbers of customers may plan to visit Greggs, we will now initially operate these trials behind closed doors in order to effectively test our new operational safety measures.
“We will continue to review this and will invite walk-in customers into our shops only when we can be confident of doing so in the controlled manner we intended.”
Greggs had hoped if the trial was successful it could move to phase two with 700 shops reopening.
However, it had said this would only happen if the government moved first to relax the lockdown, with the reopening of schools and more people being allowed to return to work.
The company was working on the basis that schools would reopen on 1 June, allowing the phase two shops to reopen on 8 June.
The final phase of its initial plan was to open all shops with new operational measures in place by 1 July, which is when the government’s job retention furlough scheme is currently due to end.