COLSTON Bakery in Worcester faced criticism this week after staff were seen not abiding to social distancing measures - however the owner of the 100 year old family run business said it would be implementing changes immediately.

Michael Harris visited the bakery in Angel Place on Saturday and said he felt concerned for the safety of the three members of staff working in the bakery.

Peter Clarke, the owner, has defended his decision to keep the bakeries open. He said: "If we were to close we would never reopen again. Meaning 55 local people would become redundant.

Mr Harris said: "I came away deeply worried for the safety of the staff. The girl serving me was absolutely brilliant, but there is not enough space behind the counter to social distance. The three members of staff were stood two inches apart, not two metres, and were reaching over each other, as is the nature of the job.

"I am so worried for the workers, I feel sorry for them, if one of them is asymptomatic what happens then? It calls into question whether the bakery should be open at all if social distancing is not possible."

Colston Bakery is a family business and has 7 stores in Worcester, Malvern and Upton, going back almost a century.

Mr Clarke, said: "Admittedly this is a learning curve for all of us, and it is extremely hard for staff to social distance whilst also carrying out their duties, but we are doing everything in our power to apply it in all of our stores. We have a one way system and only two customers are allowed in the bakery at a time. All of our hardworking staff are taking as much care as is humanly possible.

"Saturday is a very busy day for us and so we had five members of staff on that day instead of four. This week I will ensure that the staff are deployed slightly differently to try and manage the social distancing. It is a work in progress for us all."

"We have been serving the local community for 100 years and I intend to keep that going. We are a lifeline for many, especially during these difficult times. I am surprised by this complaint, it has taken the wind out of my sails, we have been getting tons and tons of amazing feedback from the community.

"One of our regulars in Malvern came into the store and said: 'I am 80, I can't come out to the shops anymore, will you deliver my bread for me?' Of course, we had to do something for him. We are now delivering to over 100 self isolating elderly people across Malvern.

"During this pandemic we have been a lot busier than usual because people don't want to make long journeys to overcrowded supermarkets.

"As for our staff, eight weeks ago, we furloughed a huge percent of them, especially those who are at risk or have vulnerable family at home. We are working at a much more limited capacity of just 20 staff for 7 stores.

"As a well established community business I had to make the hard decisions on what was best to do during this time - do we close and face the possibility of never opening again...or do we continue to serve our local people with the basic necessities they need?