“Cafes have to close but this is still being allowed...” - Coffee company criticised for seating area at Ely Market

Silver Oak Coffee have been criticised for its al fresco seating area at Ely Market. Photo not from

Silver Oak Coffee have been criticised for its al fresco seating area at Ely Market. Photo not from Saturday March 21.Picture; SILVER OAK - Credit: Archant

Silver Oak Coffee came under fire for allowing customers to sit at tables after cafes were ordered to close because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Susanne Stent, who owns the coffee company, has since explained the tables had been spaced further apart than usual and the gathering areas were closed as soon as the market was considered too busy for the arrangement.

She said: “There were less tables than usual and we spaced them two metres apart. It was such a sunny day though, and the weather brought lots of poeple out.

“When there were too many, and following advice from the Ely Markets supervisor, we packed away all the tables and chairs and closed our trailer deck at about 10:30am.”

Before the weekend, the government introduced tougher social distancing measures and ordered all cafes and pubs to close from midnight on Friday.

But visitors to Ely Markets tweeted photographs yesterday (Saturday) morning of customers enjoying their coffee al fresco at Silver Oak Coffee’s seating area.

Eco Ely tweeted: “Cafes have to close but this is still being allowed at @ElyMarkets? @SilverOakCoffee Do you not understand the importance of needing to stop people gathering? @EastCambs @ely_city_ranger @MikeRouse3”

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It ended: “Please listen to the government! Please stop this.”

Ely Markets responded on Twitter with: “This shouldn’t be happening. We’re dealing with it. Our Markets Supervisor is telling traders that they can’t put out tables and chairs. Thanks for letting us know.”

Silver Oak Coffee themselves responded with: “We have no seating out, take outs only, following advice. We are asking people to space out not queue and to use our hand sanitiser.

“Any other suggestions welcomed. We are delivering beans to people self isolating and offering free drinks to NHS and uniformed workers.”

Later, Eco Ely tweeted another photograph later in the day showing Silver Oak Coffee customers gathering on the top deck.

It said: “What about all these people on top of your bus? You are not enforcing self distancing if you are allowing them to go and sit upstairs?”

Silver Oak Coffee, which attends Ely Market six days a week and also has an outlet at March Railway Station, then responded to explain the trailer deck had been closed. It claims this was done when the seating area was packed up.

One contributor to the conversation said it was ‘shocking that people are still needing to be told this’ whereas another questioned whether the market should still be taking place.

Ely Markets has remained open throughout the coronavirus outbreak and says it is ‘business as usual’ until the government tells it to close.

According to its current policy, it is ‘closely monitoring the government’s COVID-19 guidelines’ and will keep traders ‘up to date on all the latest advice’.

Eco Ely closed the thread to Silver Oak Coffee by saying: “Glad you’ve taken immediate action now. Shame it wasn’t done for public safety this morning. I wish you every success with deliveries and takeaway and please note this was not personal at all. Just concerned for public safety. Take care.”

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