Social distancing stops fish and chip shop's restaurant opening on May 17

The Three Cottages Fish Restaurant, in North Walsham

The Three Cottages Fish Restaurant, in North Walsham - Credit: Staff

A North Norfolk fish and chip shop has announced it won't be reopening its restaurant from May 17, due to social distancing restrictions.

The popular North Walsham eatery has been running its takeaway service throughout lockdown but has chosen not to open its 30-seater restaurant from next week, despite calls from customers assuming it would be open.

David Audley, one of the co-owners of The Three Cottages Fish Restaurant said the layout of the restaurant, a lack of staff and restrictions made reopening the seated part of the venue unviable.

He said after considering what changes would need to be made, the decision to remain closed had been a simple one.

The Three Cottages Fish Restaurant, in North Walsham Road.

The Three Cottages Fish Restaurant, in North Walsham Road. - Credit: Staff

Mr Audley said: "We've got a 30-seater restaurant but it's split over two small rooms and you come in through a doorway and back out through the same doorway so we couldn't have a separate entrance and exit.

"There's no way we can do two metres apart unless we only seat 15 and it becomes unviable to employ waiting staff if you can only seat 15 people.

"We are a very busy shop but it's mostly takeaways, 30 seat restaurant is not a very big operation and although it's not cramped together they are currently not two metres apart so we looked at it and thought, if we really mess around we could probably sit 10-15 people but we're looking at four tables of four people."

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Putting the news the restaurant would not be opening from May 17 on social media, Mr Audley said the team had been forced to make the announcement after a number of customers phoned the business up, assuming the restaurant would be open.

He said: "We hope to reopen the restaurant at some stage. We have got to really wait until the government lifts the restaurant and social distancing.

"We don't want to do it until it's safe to do. We also don't really want to reopen until staff have had their vaccine. We're hoping that later in the summer we will be back."