London Covid: The new rules on pubs and what ‘substantial meal’ means – MyLondon



Since London went back into lockdown on November 5, Londoners have been wondering when we might be able to go back to the pub.

The answer could be as soon as next week, depending on which restriction tier London ends up in – but pub trips are likely to be very different to normal.

Under the new tougher restrictions, pubs and restaurants in tier 1 and 2 areas are allowed to open with table service. In tier 2, like the old tier 3, alcohol can only be served with a ‘substantial meal’ and pubs must close if they cannot accommodate this.

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In both tiers 1 and 2 the closing time policy has been changed. Last orders will now be at 10pm with an 11pm closing time to aid social distancing when leaving.

If London goes into the new tier 3, all pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues will remain closed except for takeaway, click and collect and drive through.

What is a ‘substantial meal’?

The Government’s Winter Plan defines a substantial meal as “a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal.”

So crisps and bar snacks won’t count, nor will a plate of chips – but you could have a pint with your fry up.

This is a similar rule to that of the previous tier 3, imposed in places like Manchester and Liverpool. In an interview with LBC about these pre-lockdown restrictions, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said things like a Cornish pasty would count as a ‘substantial meal’ only if it were served with a side like chips or a salad.

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Jenrick told LBC: “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.”

The Winter Plan states that, under the new tier 2, “venues that serve alcohol can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals (and accompanying drinks).”

This suggests that drinks can only be served while eating your meal, but there appears to be no restriction on the number of drinks served with a meal.

The tier restrictions for local areas from December 2 will be announced later this week.

What do you think of having to eat a meal to drink in a pub? Let us know in the comments below.