Greggs is set to conduct trials with volunteers to determine how it can safely reopen its shops.
It is understood the trial will begin in Newcastle, where Greggs is based, before being expanded more widely with a view to open all stores in July, dependent on government advice at that time.
“We want to play our part in getting the nation back up and running again,” said a spokesperson for Greggs.
“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.”
News of the plans come as a growing number of bakery businesses have reopened some stores after taking measures to protect staff and customers.
Many chains closed down completely after the 20 March announcement that pubs, restaurants and cafés should shut to help delay the spread of coronavirus. However, food businesses were allowed to continue to trade.
Like Birds of Derby and Bayne’s in Scotland, which have reopened shops in recent weeks, it is expected Greggs will introduce measures such as safety screens and find ways to encourage social distancing.
Earlier this month, Greggs announced it had raised £150m through the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility scheme, which it said would meet the company’s liquidity needs for a “prolonged closure period”.
In March, the company stated the closure of its sites would cost the business £5m a week. However, after seeing details of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and further examining its cost base, Greggs has dropped this figure to £3.5m per week until the end of June, then £4.5m from July onwards, including the cost of property rents, which it expects in future to pay monthly in advance.