‘We don’t want to be Covid police’: Fishmonger’s left stung by criticism of its social distancing measures – before other customers stepped in

Chorlton fishmonger Out of the Blue has been flooded with support for continuing its social distancing policy.

The shop has been running a four customers at one time arrangement in the premises for the past two years, with a view to keeping both its staff and customers safe during the pandemic.

However, it has received some criticism for maintaining the policy, as restrictions start to lift.

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Following a negative Google review over the weekend (the shop has a sterling 4.9 out of 5 rating), in which a customer noted ‘disrespectful customer service’, owner Dave Yarwood asked followers on Twitter whether the policy should be reviewed.

“It’s doing my nut in getting negative reviews,” he said. “We are trying our best.”

However, the replies to the tweet were overwhelmingly supportive in keeping the policy in place.

And, speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Mr Yarwood said: “I don’t want to be the Covid police.

“There’s a massive sign outside the shop, and we’ve been doing it for two years.

Out of the Blue’s Dave Yarwood posing with a giant fish

“But we sort of like [the policy] in the shop, it’s not as hectic as it used to be. There are pros and cons to it.

“The pros are that it’s very efficient, people can peruse, and we’re a bit more organized. A lot of the fish is ready prepped. People are in and out.

“The downside is the atmosphere of the shop. Pre-pandemic, we might have 20 people in, all dialects, all languages, and it would be noisy, people shouting, swapping recipes and cooking tips.

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“And I liked that, but that’s gone for now. I’m sure at some point it will all be relaxed. Maybe we’ll not be back to that level. It’s just a little bit annoying that some people don’t get it.

“But we’ve been in this for two years now, and it’s just a way of life we ​​have to get used to.”

The reaction from customers about the policy was also overwhelmingly positive.

Said Twitter user Joanne Orr: “Your policy is spot on. It feels safe and nobody is breathing down your neck.

“My husband waits outside if you’re busy and have a queue. We came this morning and the system was working fine!”

What do you think? Should shops continue with their social distance policies? Have your say below

“Don’t ditch the policy,” added customer Lisa Butterworth. “Do what feels safe for you & your staff & keep pointing out your rules to the non-observers. The majority love you & feel lucky to have you on their doorstep.”

Sashimi Girl went on: “Please don’t stop limiting numbers and asking people to wear masks. There is still a global health pandemic and many elderly and/or vulnerable people or carers who like fish. It’s about looking out for each other and #respect.”

Others have since taken to Google to pen positive reviews in support of the shop.

Write Jonathan Hall: “Incredible fishmongers, extremely well operated, caring customer service, restricting customer capacity has helped to slow the spread of Covid. Huge range of fish and seafood.”

Adds James O’Shea: “A great shop, which I’ve used many times, over the years. From Sea Bass to fish cakes. I’ve always found the service efficient and friendly – I appreciate the precautions to protect customers and staff from Coronavirus.”

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As for the bustling atmosphere returning to the shop, Mr Yarwood says he is now a bit torn.

“Prior to reading all the supportive comments. [on Twitter]I would have said yes, I’d like it to be like that again,” he said.

“But having read the comments, and I know it’s only a minority of people, but everyone seems very positive about keeping it how it is.

“So maybe after reading the thread, it may have changed my mind a little bit.

“But organically, things will return to normal eventually.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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