One of the country's biggest coffee chains has announced plans to reopen its seating areas - with 44 branches to welcome customers from today.

On Thursday, Costa Coffee said 44 stores will reopen their dine-in areas, allowing people to sit inside for the first since the lockdown was introduced in March.

It comes just a day after fast-food chain McDonald's reopened hundreds more stores - with seating areas now back in action at over 1,000 restaurants.

Costa Coffee said it plans to reopen 2,000 more of its stores by the end of July, of which half will offer dine-in for fans.

The chain, which has 2,700 branches across the UK and Ireland, has been gradually reopening outlets since April 24 for takeaway, delivery and drive-thru orders.

Boris Johnson gave cafes, restaurants and pubs the green light to reopen for dine-in on July 4, but several high street names including Greggs have chosen to pass up the opportunity.

Customers will be able to dine in again

Costa Coffee, which is preparing to trial the move, said seating areas will be limited and available on a first come, first served basis to keep to social distancing guidelines.

If a table is not available, customers will be encouraged to use the take-away service or wait outside the store until a table becomes free.

Tables will be placed two metres apart and Costa Coffee said it'll take contact details of customers who decide to eat in.

Costa Coffee fans can also expect perspex screens around counters and hand sanitiser stations in its cafes.

Neil Lake, managing director of Costa Coffee UK & Ireland, said: "We are delighted to safely welcome customers back into our stores offering them the option to sit and enjoy their favourite perfectly handcrafted Costa Coffee, as we begin to trial eat in across a selected number of our stores.

“With safety remaining our number one priority, our eat-in trial has been designed in line with government guidelines and will test the enhanced safety and operating measures we’ve implemented.

"Feedback on our stores re-opening has been overwhelming positive and we are grateful for the hard work of our store teams and the patience of our customers as we do this.

"We look forward to welcoming more customers back to the seating areas of our stores soon."

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Which Costa Coffee stores are  now open for dine-in?

Abingdon, 39 Bury St, OX14 3QY

Birmingham, Unit 7, Selly Oak Retail Park, Harborne Ln, B29 6SN

Bourne End, 67 The Parade, Wooburn Green, SL8 5SB

Caversham, 43 St Martins Precinct, Church St, RG4 8BA

Dorchester, 8 Cornhill, DT1 1BA

Harlow, Unit 14, The Queensgate Centre, Edinburgh Way, CM20 2DA

Harrow, 8 Warwick Parade, Kenton Ln, HA3 8SA

Horsham, 12, 12A West St, RH12 1PB

Ipswich, 1 - 5 Queen St, IP1 1SW

Kendal, 13 Elephant Yard Shopping Road, LA9 4QQ

Locks Heath Shopping Centre, 48, Centre Way, Southampton SO31 6DX

London, 146-148 Burnt Oak Broadway, HA8 0AX

London, Unit 1, 130 Colindale Avenue, Colindale, NW9 4AX

Maidstone MSA, Unit 23, Fremlin Walk, Maidstone ME14 1QP

Maidstone, Unit 23, Fremlin Walk, ME14 1QP

Manchester, 8 Market Street, M1 1PW

Moto Lancaster South, Blackburn Extra Services, M65 Junction 4, Darwen BB3 0AT

Moto Scotch Corner, A1m, Middleton Tyas Ln, Middleton Tyas, Richmond DL10 6PQ

Moto Services Exeter, M5, Exeter EX2 7HF

Moto Services, Oxford Road, Chieveley RG20 8XX

Moto Trowell South, M1 southbound between Junction 25 and 26, Trowell NG9 3PL

Moto Winchester South, Shroner Wood, Winchester SO21 1PP

Newbury Retail Park, Unit 8B, Pinchington Ln, Newbury RG14 7HU

Northwood, 8 Clive Parade, HA6 2QF

Nottingham, 29 Market Pl, Long Eaton, NG10 1JL

Nottingham, Unit 9, The Square, Beeston, NG9 2JG

Oxford, 30 Queen St, OX1 1ER

Roadchef Durham, Tursdale Road, Bowburn, Durham DH6 5NP

Roadchef Killington Lake MSA, M6 Southbound Killington, Kendal LA8 0NW

Roadchef Sandbach M6 Northbound, M6 Northbound, Sandbach CW11 2FZ

Roadchef Sutton Scotney MSA Northbound, A34 Stockbridge Rd W, Sutton Scotney, Winchester SO21 3JY

Roadchef Sutton Scotney MSA Southbound, A34 Stockbridge Rd W, Sutton Scotney, Winchester SO21 3JY

Roadchef Taunton Deane North MSA, Somerset TA3 7PF

Roadchef Taunton Deane South MSA, Somerset TA3 7PF

Roadchef Tibshelf North, Newton, Alfreton DE55 5TZ

Roadchef Tibshelf South, Newton, Alferton, DE55 5TZ

Sevenoaks, 2 Blighs Ct, TN13 1DA

Sheffield, 3b Kilner Way, S6 1NN

Sidcup, 1 Christopher House, 97-99 Station Rd, DA15 7BS

St. Nicholas Arcades St Nicolas Arcade, Lancaster LA1 1ND England

Thatcham, 8-8a The Kingsland Centre, RG19 3JD

The Gallagher Retail Park, Unit R, Stoney Stanton Rd, Coventry CV6 5QL

Woodford Green, 688-690 Chigwell Rd, Woodford Bridge, IG8 8AH

Yate, 33 East Walk Yate Shopping Centre