The Wine Society hopes to reopen for business by the Easter weekend. 

In a message to its members, chief executive Steve Finlan said: “Thank you to all our members for your continued patience while we have made a number of vital changes to our warehouse operation over the last two weeks designed to make our warehouse environment safe for our teams.

“New orders for delivery remain suspended and we are not taking applications for membership or new subscriptions to our Wine Without Fuss and Vintage Cellar Plan schemes. Our Tastings & Events programme remains cancelled until the end of June and our Cellar Showroom in Stevenage is closed until further notice. 

“We are keeping our FAQs section up to date and a smaller home-based Member Services team is in place. During this time we also hope that members and non-members can continue to enjoy our online ‘Discovery’ content, and that members can share their love of wine and spend time together on our Community pages.

“While we are not able to accept new orders quite yet, there is encouraging news to share. I am pleased to say that we have successfully implemented the significant changes needed for our warehouse to reopen safely. We have tested the operation and systems to the full satisfaction of our workforce and our union representative. I hope that this reassures those members concerned for our employees’ well-being. All other business activities are being operated by teams working from home.

“The team’s first task is to clear the backlog of orders generated in the weeks leading up to our closure. All members with an outstanding delivery will be contacted shortly by Member Services with more details. We will work as quickly as possible to clear this backlog, but demand during the period before closure was extremely high, and this process will take some time.

“We are committed to open for new orders as quickly as we can. This is likely to be during the Easter weekend. This will be a reduced service: initially we will be taking orders for full unmixed cases only and offering full-case withdrawals from Members’ Reserves.

“This will not be business as usual, but we are all committed to doing our very best. Based on our experience before closure, however, initial demand will inevitably exceed our ability to pack orders in our new environment and this will impact delivery dates.

“Thank you again for your patience and understanding.”

The Wine Society closed temporarily on March 23 for the first time in its 146-year history. It made the decision to close because it wanted to put the safety of its staff first, and at the time it was operating with just 50% of its usual staffing numbers while also dealing with a huge surge in sales.