'We need to protect vulnerable' - tackle store responds to bad review

Stacy Bird, owner of Birds Tackle fishing shop in Great Blakenham

Stacy Bird, owner of Birds Tackle fishing shop in Great Blakenham - Credit: Archant

The owner of a fishing tackle store near Ipswich has defended its policy on mask wearing after a customer left a one-star review on Google.

The shopper posted to complain after he was told he could not go inside Birds Tackle fishing store in Great Blakenham without wearing a face mask.

However, other customers have posted on Facebook to support the store - which offers a door service to those not wearing masks or those who do not want to go into the shop.  

Face coverings are currently required by law in most indoor public places for everyone over 11, unless they have an exemption.  

Birds Tackle fishing store in Great Blakenham near Ipswich

Birds Tackle fishing store in Great Blakenham near Ipswich - Credit: Birds Tackle

The Google reviewer claimed the owner had demanded he wore a mask even though he explained he was exempt.

"Continued to say he didn’t care - no mask no sale - despite the fact of pointing out he is breaking the law on discrimination grounds."

But Stacy Bird from the store said it was not discriminating, and had Covid-safe policies in place to protect customers and staff.

He said it offered a clearly-signed option of door service for all customers, including those not wearing a mask, as well as online and phone sales. 

Birds Tackle fishing store in Great Blakenham near Ipswich

Birds Tackle fishing store in Great Blakenham near Ipswich - Credit: Birds Tackle

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"We have a responsibility to protect vulnerable customers and staff. One member of staff has recovered from cancer, another has had a major heart attack and another who has other health issues, making them all very vulnerable.

"We have customers coming in who say they feel safe in our shop because everyone is wearing masks."

Mr Bird added: "Our customers have been very supportive. I would say we have 99% of people wearing masks, and we have masks we can give to anyone who doesn't have one."

He said it was especially important to enforce mask wearing in a shop like Birds Tackle, where people tend to browse for a long time.

Birds also has other Covid-safe policies including sanitising stations and screens at the tills, and a sanitising fogging machine for deep cleaning. 

The store posted a reply to the Google review which said: "We at Birds Tackle are taking the Government's advice on wearing face masks in retail outlets seriously.

"We have a sign outside to say that if you are not wearing a mask we can provide door service, so as not to discriminate against those who are exempt or not wearing a mask."

The reply adds: "If we allowed customers to enter the shop without masks, we would have to shut the shop and sanitise everywhere."