Confusion as bars that serve 'substantial' meals spared shutdown

So when does a pub become a restaurant? Confusion as bars that serve ‘substantial’ meals are spared from shutdown

  • Alcohol could be served as part of a ‘substantial meal’ in a pub under new rules
  • It will be the police and councils job to enforce what classes as ‘substantial meal’
  • The changes come in new plans set out by the PM for three ‘Covid Alert Levels’
  • But MPs and landlords reacted with fury, with many worried pubs ‘won’t survive’
  • Meanwhile the hospitality industry is mounting a legal challenge to restrictions

Pubs and bars will be forced to close unless they can function as restaurants serving ‘substantial’ meals when new local lockdown measures come in on Wednesday.

In legislation relating to areas in the ‘very high’ tier, clarity is given as to what constitutes a meal in a pub.

The regulations refer to a ‘table meal, and the meal is such as might be expected to be served as the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at either such meal’.

They add ‘a table meal is a meal eaten by a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure which serves the purposes of a table and is not used for the service of refreshments for consumption by persons not seated at a table or structure serving the purposes of a table’.

Alcohol could be served as part of these and it will be the police and councils job to enforce what passes as a ‘substantial meal’.

In legislation relating to areas in the ‘very high’ tier, clarity is given as to what constitutes a meal in a pub (pictured, Liverpool)

The changes come in new plans set out by the Prime Minister for three ‘Covid Alert Levels’ that will govern lockdown measures.

Boris Johnson said the new tiers would ‘simplify and standardise our local rules’ while seeking to suppress Covid-19’s spread.

He said at a press conference tonight: ‘Areas within the Very High Alert category will be reviewed every four weeks and nowhere will be shut down indefinitely.

‘And the exact restrictions at this level, Very High, will be worked out with local leaders, along with tailored packages of support.

‘But at a minimum they will, sadly, include a ban on all social mixing between households in private places, including gardens and pubs and bars must close unless they can operate solely as a restaurant, serving alcohol only as part of a main meal.’

More than 17million people are covered by the two higher risk tiers in the government’s new system, with the rest of England under the Rule of Six and 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants

MPs and landlords immediately reacted with fury at the news, with many worried pubs ‘won’t survive’.

Labour MP Toby Perkins tweeted: ‘I asked the Prime Minister what support the Government will provide to those businesses, such as many pubs, that remain open but have become unsustainable as a business due to the restrictions that have been imposed. Were any #Chesterfield publicans reassured by his answer?’

Claudia Webbe, another Labour MP, posted: ‘I want to be clear whilst I support the actions they will not be enough and the data provided indicates they are inadequate.

‘Of course each area is different- for Leicester East it is not pubs and restaurants that is bringing #COVID19 into homes. I asked that question direct 2day.’

Conservative MP William Wragg told the Commons earlier: ‘I do fear talk of closing hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes misses the point given the very limited transmission of Covid within them.’

He cautioned the danger is people will meet in homes rather than at Covid-secure venues, something the PM said restrictions in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas would prevent.

One angry Tory MP for a northern seat told MailOnline: ‘It will be very frustrating if pubs get closed with 48 hours’ notice.’

They added: ‘Why not focus on the elderly and vulnerable and save jobs and lives?’

Landlords were also fuming by the changes, with ones in Liverpool (pictured) – which is the first area to face the highest restrictions – worrying they will not survive

Landlords were also fuming by the changes, with ones in Liverpool – which is the first area to face the highest restrictions – worrying they will not survive.

UK Hospitality warned of a lack of support for hospitality businesses in tiers 1 and 2.

Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘The impact of all of these restrictions is huge and we are quickly reaching the point of no return for many businesses.

‘For those businesses in tier 3 areas, forced to close their doors again, things look bleak but the support announced last week for closed businesses will hopefully give them the breathing room they need to survive another lockdown.

Pubs threaten to SUE ministers over curbs 

The UK hospitality industry is mounting a legal challenge to the government’s lockdown restrictions.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) revealed late on Sunday that the industry has taken legal action to prevent lockdown measures from being imposed.

The judicial review will argue that no evidence supports hospitality venues having contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

‘The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so called ‘common sense’ approach narrative from government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the North of England,’ NTIA CEO Michael Kill said in an email.

‘These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package,’ the statement read. 

‘There is currently a concerning lack of support on offer for hospitality businesses in tier 2, and to a lesser extent tier 1, despite their facing restrictions that is seeing trade down by between 40 per cent to 60 per cent.

‘They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier 3 businesses.

‘Without enhanced grant support and enhanced Government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside.

‘It is time for the Government, at the very least, to rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew on those areas where COVID rates are low.

‘It was imposed without credible evidence that hospitality is the source of increases in transmission, while some evidence points the other way. To leave hospitality out to dry would be a grave and risky move and would cost many people their jobs.’

Frances Burleigh, landlady of The Beehive pub in the city centre, said: ‘My biggest worry as a boss and a licensee is my business will have to close again and we may very well not come open next time because there’s no funds in the pot from last time.’

‘The last lockdown I lost 6,500 pounds ($8,490) on beer alone and 3,500 on food and I’ll not survive that this time.’

Karen Strickland, landlady of The Grapes pub, said their income was already down by 70 per cent with the current enforced nationwide closing time of 10pm, and the government’s support scheme help was not enough.

‘It’s absolutely horrendous. My staff, some of them still haven’t come back to work yet, their job’s just not here for them,’ she said, adding it made no sense to single out pubs.

She continued: ‘If they are going to close our pubs it’s not going to make any difference because they’re all going to have house parties, people will still drink, people will still socialise.

‘At least in the pubs we did what the government wants. If anywhere’s safe, it’s in a pub.’

She added: ‘I think it’s been handled abysmally, to be perfectly honest. It feels like they are penalising the north again.’

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) revealed late on Sunday the industry has taken legal action to prevent lockdown measures from being imposed. Pictured: A pub in Liverpool

Meanwhile the hospitality industry is mounting a legal challenge to the restrictions, aiming to stop its plans to close pubs and other venues to tackle Covid cases.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) revealed late on Sunday the industry has taken legal action to prevent lockdown measures from being imposed.

The judicial review will argue that no evidence supports hospitality venues having contributed to the spread of Covid-19.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: ‘The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so called ‘common sense’ approach narrative from government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the North of England.

‘These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package.’

Mr Johnson told MPs the coming weeks and months would ‘test the mettle’ of the country as it faced a second wave of Covid-19 cases.

Under the new arrangements the medium alert level will cover most of England and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.

The high alert level reflects interventions in many areas subject to local restrictions, preventing mixing between different households indoors.

Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into this category, as well as Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak.

The very high alert level will mean, at a minimum, the closure of pubs and bars and a ban on social mixing indoors and in private gardens.

Areas in the top tier will be able to impose extra restrictions, and in the Liverpool city region this will mean the closure of leisure centres, gyms, betting shops and casinos.

MPs will debate and vote on the measures on Tuesday and the new tiered system will come into effect on Wednesday.

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