Coronavirus lockdown UK: Fury as landlords lash out at pub arbitrary rules


The Government today said a Cornish pasty would only be considered a ‘substantial meal’ under new lockdown restrictions if it came on a plate with a salad or chips.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that only a pasty that came with a side and was served to a table in a pub could be considered as ‘a normal meal’.  

He added that patrons must eat this type of meal to be served alcohol in pubs in areas subject to the most stringent level of the Government’s new local tier system. 

It comes as pub bosses slammed the Government for ‘targeting’ them with new restrictions amid confusion over what food has to be served for them to stay open.

The British Beer and Pub Association said further restrictions targeting the industry in the areas worst hit by Covid-19 will lead to permanent closures and job losses.

It comes as: 

  • Registered deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales rose to their highest level since early July, with 321 deaths registered in the week to October 2;
  • Derriford Hospital in Plymouth has become the latest hospital to cancel routine inpatient operations to make way for Covid patients;
  • Essex County Council will ask Matt Hancock for stricter Covid restrictions;
  • A member of the panel of scientists advising ministers said a ‘circuit break’ lockdown would have prevented ‘intensive and long-term’ restrictions later;
  • Unemployment in Britain has jumped to its highest level since early 2017 amid fears that millions more people will be on the dole queue by Christmas;
  • US experts have reported the country’s first confirmed Covid reinfection case.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC Radio today (pictured) that only a Cornish pasty that came with a and was served on a plate to a table could be considered as ‘a normal meal’

¿  A Cornish pasty with a side salad on a plate would be considered a 'substantial meal'

✓  A Cornish pasty with a side salad on a plate would be considered a ‘substantial meal’

✗  A Cornish pasty without a salad or chips and not on a plate would not be a ‘substantial meal’

Pubs can remain open in areas under the most stringent level of the Government’s new local tier system – but only if they serve customers certain meals with drinks.

Those that just sell alcohol must close under ‘tier three’, the toughest new measures, which apply only to Liverpool initially where there is a ban on social mixing indoors.

Fancy a pint? Buy a meal (not just crisps) 

Pubs can remain open in areas under the most stringent rules – but only if they serve customers meals with their drinks.

Those that just sell alcohol must close under ‘tier three’, the toughest new measures, which apply only to Liverpool initially.

Diners will be required to eat ‘substantial meals’ rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks.

Social mixing will be banned both indoors and in private gardens, so people cannot go out with anyone outside their household.

Both the police and the council will be responsible for enforcing the ‘substantial meal’ rules.

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, said: ‘It’s not entirely clear if you had a sausage roll with a bowl of chips, would that be substantial? I’m not clear on that.’

He asked if there would be support for pubs that are not forced to close but are unable to make a living. 

Diners at open pubs will be required to eat ‘substantial meals’ rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks, but Twitter users joked today about the guidance on Cornish pasties – and one MP cast doubt on the practicality of the new measures.

Matt Knight from Essex said: ‘Wonder if in 20 years the Covid history books will dedicate a chapter to whether a Cornish Pasty with chips or side salad counted as a substantial meal and if it helped halt the rise of coronavirus.’ 

John Chandler from Milton Keynes added: ‘Okay, I’ll allow ‘with chips’ dubious as it may be (a pasty should be a meal in itself). But a Cornish pasty with a side salad? Who on earth has a pasty with a side salad?’

And Richard Pollins from London said: ‘I’m not getting involved in the politics of this but whether or not a Cornish pasty comes with chips or a side salad – it is a decent lunch or oversized snack – it is not a substantial meal.’

In addition, Maren Bennette from Cornwall tweeted: ‘A decent Cornish pasty us a substantial meal in itsself. That’s what it was designed to be, with pastry, vegetables and meat. 

‘Miners would take it underground to eat at lunchtime. If it satisfied the hunger of a hard working miner it *had* to be substantial.’

It comes after Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield. said yesterday: ‘It’s not entirely clear if you had a sausage roll with a bowl of chips, would that be substantial? I’m not clear on that.’

He also asked if there would be support for pubs that are not forced to close but are unable to make a living.

Today, Mr Jenrick told LBC Radio that a meal eaten in a pub in a ‘tier three’ area must be ‘substantial’ and ‘the sort of meal that you would expect to have as a midday meal or an evening meal’.

‘The test in law is that a substantial meal is the sort of meal that you would expect to have as a midday meal or an evening meal,’ he said. 

How Cornish pasties were developed as a lunch for tin miners

A Cornish pasty was designed as a substantial meal wrapped in pastry with a thick crimp that was not to be eaten.

This meant tin miners could take it as a lunch meal to have underground – and the poisonous metals on their fingers would get on the crimp that was then discarded, so they did not get ill.   

They were able to hold the pastry by the folded crust so the dirt did not touch the rest of their food, then discard that section afterwards.

Devon pasties tend to have a crimped crust running along the top and are oval in shape while Cornish pasties are semi-circular with a thicker crust running along the curved edge of the pasty.

The term ‘Cornish pasty’ was given protected status by the European Commission in 2011. It states that only pasties made in Cornwall from a traditional recipe can marketed as a ‘Cornish pasty’. 

‘It would be like a main course, rather than, say, a packet of crisps or a plate of chips.’

He added that many licence-holders would be familiar with the measures as they were similar to previous rules regarding minors.

Mr Jenrick was asked by presenter Nick Ferrari: ‘So a Cornish pasty or a sausage roll and a pub in Liverpool can stay in business?’

The Conservative politician said the test was whether it was ‘the sort of meal you would expect to have for lunch.’

He added: ‘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. This isn’t actually as unusual a concept as you might feel.

‘We’ve had this in law for licence holders for a long time because it’s the same rule that has applied if you take a minor into a pub.

‘You can’t do so unless they have a substantial meal alongside the alcoholic drinks, so people who actually run pubs and bars will be familiar with this and know how to operate it.’

The official guidance regarding food service also states that ‘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’.

Earlier, speaking to Sky News, Mr Jenrick said: ‘A substantial meal means the kind of meal that you’d have for lunch or the kind of meal you’d have for dinner – a proper meal. It doesn’t mean a packet of crisps or a plate of chips or a bag of pork scratchings.’ 

A ‘tier three’ will be applied to the Liverpool City Region, resulting in the closure of its bars and pubs, unless they serve food and alcohol as part of a sit-down meal.

The BBPA said there were about 970 pubs in the areas affected by the lockdown.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘Singling out pubs for closure and further restrictions is simply the wrong decision and grossly unfair.

What does the law say about pubs serving a ‘substantial meal’?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020

Requirement to close businesses selling alcohol for consumption on the premises 16.

  • (1) A person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, bar or other business involving the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises must cease to carry on that business, unless paragraph (2) applies. 
  • (2) This paragraph applies if alcohol is only served for consumption on the premises as part of 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. 
  • (3) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)— 
  • (a) alcohol sold by a hotel or other accommodation as part of room service is not to be treated as being sold for consumption on its premises; 
  • (b) an area adjacent to the premises of the business where seating is made available for customers of the business (whether or not by the business), or where customers gather to drink outside the business, is to be treated as part of the premises of that business. 
  • (4) For the purposes of this paragraph, 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. 

‘It’s why we are calling for a proportionate response to the virus based on tangible transmission evidence.

‘Public Health England figures released on Friday show hospitality was responsible for just 3 per cent of total transmissions.

‘Where is the merit in closing pubs to combat the virus based on that information? Especially when they are providing a safe and regulated place for people to meet at.’

She said the restrictions would ‘devastate’ the sector, claiming that ‘thousands’ of local pubs and jobs ‘will be lost for good’. 

Conservative MP Alec Shelbroke, for Elmet and Rothwell in West Yorkshire, told MailOnline today: ‘I am going to ask the Chancellor about this. 

‘A lot of the pubs in our area are open but they are getting no custom. You need to extend the grant down from tier three to two – that’s what I am going to be asking.’ 

Drinkers in Liverpool yesterday complained that the city was being unfairly singled out.

Marty Hand, 60, said: ‘The whole economy is going to suffer because of it and I think Boris Johnson has been totally against the North West area.

‘Everyone in Liverpool is hurt and we feel like scapegoats. This is going back to the 1980s.’

Michael White, 70, added: ‘The furlough pay now is two thirds, if this was happening in London it wouldn’t be. It’s one law for them and one law for us.’

Meanwhile, leaders in the night-time economy have launched a legal challenge over the impending lockdown rules.

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said lawyers have been instructed to seek a judicial review into any further restrictions on hospitality and entertainment venues across the North of England.

Trade body The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the measures have ‘no scientific rationale’ and could have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on late-night businesses.

Mr Lord, co-creator of the Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, who is leading the legal action, said leaders in Greater Manchester have not seen ‘any tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure’ of venues in the area. 

A television shows Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking from 10 Downing Street in London, as customers sit at the bar inside the William Gladstone pub in Liverpool yesterday evening

A television shows Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking from 10 Downing Street in London, as customers sit at the bar inside the William Gladstone pub in Liverpool yesterday evening

‘Despite discussions and ongoing calls for data, we have not yet been shown any tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure of the hospitality and entertainment sectors across Greater Manchester,’ he said.

How England breaks down in new COVID tiers 

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK

Liverpool City Region 

Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton 

TIER TWO – HIGH RISK 

Cheshire 

Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East 

Greater Manchester 

Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, 

Warrington

Derbyshire 

High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North 

Lancashire 

Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley 

West Yorkshire

Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South

Yorkshire

Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield 

North East 

Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland

Tees Valley 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool 

West Midlands

Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall

Leicester

Leicester, Oadby and Wigston 

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City

TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK

Rest of England 

‘We have therefore been left with little choice but to escalate the matter further.’

Meanwhile hospitality bosses have warned of a lack of support for businesses in tiers one and two, which will still face major restrictions including the damaging 10pm curfew.

UKHospitality 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 three 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.

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

‘They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier three businesses. Without enhanced grant support and enhanced Government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside.’

She added that the Government should ‘at the very least’ rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew in areas where Covid rates are low, adding that it was ‘imposed without credible evidence that hospitality is the source of increases in transmission, while some evidence points the other way’.

Ms Nicholls continued: ‘To leave hospitality out to dry would be a grave and risky move and would cost many people their jobs.’

The Prime Minister yesterday defended restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector, stating that similar measures have been introduced elsewhere in Europe.

Boris Johnson said that the UK Government was not an ‘outlier’ in its decision to limit people’s time in bars and pubs to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking about restrictions on pubs. Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: ‘We are not an outlier in this, in the sense that I think they’ve closed the bars in Paris.

‘And in Berlin they’ve got the first curfew since 1949, so across Europe and elsewhere you can see people tackling this in very similar ways.’

Also yesterday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden made clear that the Government will resist any legal challenge to closures of pubs and restaurants.

‘I think they will find that if they challenge the Government we do have robust evidence for doing this,’ he told Sky News.

‘The evidence shows that there is a higher risk of transmissions in hospitality settings. There is academic evidence from the United States.’

We’ve been sold down the river: Liverpool landladies fear for survival of their pubs 

Bar owners in Liverpool spoke of their devastation last night as the city became England’s first ‘tier three’ Covid zone.

It means pubs not serving food must shut from tomorrow under the new local lockdown rules. Paula Smith, who runs The Dog House off the city’s famous Penny Lane, was in tears as she told of her fears for her livelihood.

She said she could not expect her employer to pay 100 per cent of her wages again, as happened when the pub had to close in March. Miss Smith told BBC News: ‘It’s just a bit worrying. It’s not fair to put it all on the employer. It’s not fair.’

In tears: Paula Smith, who runs The Dog House in Liverpool, fears for her job

In tears: Paula Smith, who runs The Dog House in Liverpool, fears for her job 

The owner, Paul White, said the new Government grant scheme for venues forced to close would pay around £500.

‘My fixed costs are £2,500 a week, whether we’re trading or not,’ he said.

At The Grapes – where The Beatles used to drink while playing the nearby Cavern Club in the early 1960s – staff watched in horror as Boris Johnson announced on TV the closure of the city’s pubs. Manager Karen Strickland said: ‘We’re all absolutely heartbroken. We feel the mayor and the MPs have sold us down the river by going along with this.

‘Now the likes of our little pub have got to close down, and it’s disgusting.

‘Where’s the evidence behind closing pubs? My pub is immaculate, we’ve got sanitising stations and track and trace, we all wear masks.

‘If it’s so bad in pubs, why are they not closing until Wednesday? It doesn’t make any sense. Now we’re in the top tier, what will it take for us to get out of it? We could be shut for six months. How can my staff survive on two-thirds of their wages? They’ve got rent to pay, mouths to feed, Christmas is coming up.

Karen Strickland at The Grapes in Liverpool

Karen Strickland at The Grapes in Liverpool

‘Apparently Wetherspoons can stay open because they serve food. I don’t see the logic – what difference does that make? I’m devastated.’

Catherine Soithongsuk, 64, a customer at the newly refurbished pub, was equally horrified.

‘I feel so safe here,’ she said. ‘I had to put on a mask before I came in, I had to give my details and sanitise my hands. Why is it only Merseyside that’s being singled out for these restrictions? I feel Liverpool is being discriminated against.

‘We all need to learn to live with this virus, we need to use common sense, wash our hands and keep our distance from other people.

‘If people want to go to the pub then that should be fine. Once they’re closed, people will just go to house parties instead.

‘How’s that safer? There will be 25 or 30 people in one room.’

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