A TOUGHER regional tier system will come back into effect for England from December 2-23.
So what does that mean for Brits hit by Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, who are keen to return to their local pub?
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Publican Heath Ball at the Red Lion and Sun, North LondonCredit: Ian Whittaker – The Sun
What counts as a substantial meal in Tier 2 pubs?
Annoyingly, the government doesn’t provide clear guidance on this vital question, or even give a link to an explanation of what counts as a substantial meal from its updated Tier system.
The Local Government Association (LGA) points out that “this is open to interpretation and there is a degree of flexibility in what constitutes a meal”.
However, it’s understood that the government’s definition of a substantial meal is a “full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal”.
The LGA said: “It would be difficult to argue that a single sausage roll or a snack pork pie constitutes a main meal.
“Whereas if it was served plated with accompaniments such as vegetables, salad, potatoes it could be considered substantial.”
Establishments will refuse to serve booze to customers who only order bar snacks – it has to be an actual meal.
The new rules apply to revellers sitting inside and outside, and are on top of the normal Covid-secure regulations, including the use of face coverings.
Bars and pubs that don’t serve substantial meals will have to close.
Camra says that publicans are angry that the hospitality sector has been singled out for further Covid restrictions “without evidence” after England’s second lockdown ends.
Small snacks such as a packet of crisps or pork scratchings are definitely out.
Owner of the King’s Head pub in Essex Matthew Arnold is offering customers a bargain “Boris Menu” costing £1.99 as a way to lure customers in.
Wetherspoons is also launching a new breakfast menu starting from £1.99.
Small snacks such as a packet of crisps are definitely not a substantial meal
The PM’s spokesman did not confirm whether a sausage roll can be purchased along side a pint
Tom Kerridge has been talking about the importance of saving Britain’s pubs during the Covid pandemicCredit: BBC
Does a scotch egg count as a substantial meal?
A scotch egg does count as a “substantial meal”.
Environment Secretary George Eustice, whose family farm makes the picnic favourite, said: “I think a Scotch egg probably would count.”
The British Meat Processors Association backed Mr Eustice, saying: “The minister is quite right, a Scotch egg makes a cracking meal alongside a pint of beer”.
Boss Nick Allen added: “It’s a good bit of news for once and most welcome for pork producers across the land.”
Being served up a tasty Cornish pasty with chips or side salad counts as “substantial”, says housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
In October he told LBC that a pasty on its own doesn’t count as a substantial meal.
Mr Jenrick said: “If you would expect to go into that restaurant normally, or pub, and order a plated meal at the table of a Cornish pasty with chips or side salad or whatever it comes with, then that’s a normal meal.”
But there is much confusion over what makes a substantial meal, including the serving of hearty sandwiches.
The Law Society published a court case which said: ”The Justices found the sandwiches the pair were eating ‘were so substantial’, and assisted by the pickles and beetroot so as to justify that it was a table meal and not a mere snack from the bar.”
England returns to a regional tiered approach when the second national lockdown ends on December 2Credit: https://www.thefitzheadinn.co.uk/
What are the new rules for Tier 2 pubs?
Pub-goers living in a Tier 2 zone can’t just pop into their local boozer for a pint.
Under new rules for pubs in Tier 2, “high alert” designated zones “pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants”, the government says.
From Wednesday, December 2, pubs and bars can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
Plus, in Tier 2:
- Pubs and bars operating as restaurants must provide table service only
- They must remain closed between 11pm and 5am
- However hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt from this closure rule
- Tier 2 pubs and bars must stop taking orders after 10pm
- Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm
- But, this must be organised through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
The government says that all businesses and venues which reopen are expected to follow Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
Across all tiers, everyone must wear a face covering in most indoor public settings, unless they have an exemption.
Simon Gray bought an old London bus and his family has spent £2,500 transforming it into a gin barCredit: Caters News Agency
Do I need to order a meal when drinking outdoors?
The new rules apply to customers sitting inside and outside a pub impacted by the Tier 2 restrictions.
That means those seated outside also have to order a substantial meal.
When can pubs reopen?
Pubs across England can reopen from Wednesday, December 2.