Emmaus Colchester is set to re-open two of its shops after temporarily closing for 13 weeks due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The charity, which has a total of three shops, will begin a phased re-opening starting with its Home Shop on the High Street, and The Works on Magdalen Street, on Tuesday 13 April. The shops will be open from 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday.

The New Life Shop including the New Life Café on Crouch Street, will remain closed and the reopening reviewed once restrictions are lifted for the hospitality sector and it is deemed safe to re-open to the public.

Emmaus Colchester provides a home, meaningful work, training and support to people who have experienced homelessness or social exclusion. The majority of funds needed to support the charity’s work are generated by selling second-hand furniture, household goods, and clothing in its social enterprises.

The charity temporarily suspended shop sales 13 weeks ago, although it has continued to raise funds through online sales and its house clearance service. With new measures in place, Emmaus Colchester is now confident it is safe to begin a phased re-opening of its social enterprises.

Explaining the new measures, Gemma Aylesbury, Retail Manager at Emmaus Colchester, said: “We have closely followed advice from the Government and Charity Retail Association and have implemented new measures in our Home Shop and The Works to ensure it is safe to re-open. All staff and volunteers have been fully trained on the new measures and will be equipped with face masks. Hand sanitiser points have been installed throughout the shop and screens positioned at till points. We will be limiting the number of customers at any one time to maintain social distancing and have changed the layout in our shops to accommodate this.”

Item donations are currently suspended for drop-offs, although donations are being collected through the transport department that can be arranged by emailing [email protected] Updates on when drop-off donations will be accepted will be added to the charity’s website and social media channels.