GREGGS has halted plans to reopen 20 stores to the public due to overcrowding fears.
The trials will now be held behind closed doors, meaning Greggs fans will have to wait before they can get their favourite baked goods again.
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The chain temporarily closed all 2,050 of its shops a month ago due to the coronavirus crisis, even though it was allowed to stay open for takeaway orders.
But earlier this week, in a letter sent to staff seen by The Sun, top boss Roger Whiteside said the chain was looking at ways to reopen all of its stores after receiving an emergency loan from the government.
It said there would be three phases to reopening, starting with a trial of 20 stores in Newcastle from May 4.
The branches were supposed to be offering a limited menu for takeaway and shorter opening hours, as well as implementing strict social distancing rules.
But the bakery chain has now had a change of heart over fears "excessive numbers of customers may plan to visit Greggs".
Shops allowed to stay open
ONLY a small group of retailers will be allowed to stay open, they include:
- Takeaways and food deliveries
- Health shops
- Medical services – eg, dentists
- Pet shops
- Hardware stores
- Retail shops in hospitals
- Petrol stations
- Bicycle shops
- Laundrettes and dry cleaners
- Banks, building societies
- Short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points
- Storage and distribution centres
- Post Offices
- Car rental services and car parks near vital services such as supermarkets
- Public toilets
- Car garages and repair shops
- Food banks and shelters.
Greggs 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 couldn't say when it expects to reopen branches to the public, but told The Sun it may may start offering deliveries before allowing walk-in customers.
The bakery chain said no food cooked during the trial will go to waste thanks to its networks of charities.
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The 20 trial shops will be staffed by volunteers who will return to work on Monday. They'll be paid as usual.
Most of Greggs' workers have been placed on the government's coronavirus job retention scheme, with the bakery chain topping up their salaries to receive full pay.
Greggs had initially hoped that if feedback was positive from the trial it could move to phase two, with 700 shops reopening.
It's the latest retailer to make plans to reopen – KFC and Burger King have already started taking orders at branches.
While McDonald's told staff it’s getting ready to reopen as PPE and social distancing tests start this week.
Fans who've been missing their Greggs' fix have been able to pick up frozen versions of their favourite snacks from the baker's range at Iceland, but it's not quite the same.
The chain has also been posting the exact recipes for its most-loved snacks so you can make them at home.
For example, here's how to make Greggs' cheese, bean and sausage melts, which also went down a treat with fans.
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