Premier Travel has revealed plans to open some of its 24 branches on June 15.
The East Anglia-based travel agency chain said some staff were already back working in branches to trial new health and safety measures ahead of reopening.
Director Paul Waters, speaking on a Travel Weekly Webcast, said staff had been contacted three weeks ago to gauge opinion on a return to the workplace and for ideas for their branches. An external risk assessment has also been carried out.
He said: “Each [shop] has its own challenge. There is no great rush to open on June 15. Our main priority is the safety of staff and customers coming through.
“We are working towards some [branches] looking to open on June 15. We don’t envisage we’ll need all staff back, even when we are open. It will be down to business needs.”
He added: “We’ve got some staff that are actually starting to work from the branch. They can tell us what we’re hopefully getting right and any things we may not have done.”
Waters said the company would continue to use the furlough scheme as not all staff would be required in June and many could not return, for example because of childcare issues. Others were particularly keen to come back, he said.
He added. “We have got some [staff] that want to get back in and get open and see customers again. Some of that is for their own well being too because they want to get out of their homes. The reason they work is because they like dealing with people face to face.”
He said the fact companies could now bring back some staff part-time from July was “positive”, adding: “What we will have to do is balance that with the demands of new business, because there could well be, with the gradual reopening of the branches, the need to bring more staff back and possibly bring them back on a part-time basis.”
He conceded that new bookings, and the need to bring back staff, would depend on changes to the 14-day quarantine rules and said he would like to have seen a further extension for the travel industry.
But he added: “If not we have to face those challenges as and when they come up.”
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