Landlords and drinkers' fury at loophole that lets football fans and ...

Landlords and drinkers are in uproar over a legal loophole which means football fans and cinema-goers will be allowed to enjoy a pint without a 'substantial meal'.

While pub-goers will be forced to buy food if they want a drink, football supporters will be able to knock back a pint in the concourses without having to buy a burger, hot-dog or a pie.

Film-lovers will also able to watch a movie at the cinema with an alcoholic beverage in hand and without food in the other.

Meanwhile family members will also be allowed to drink with loved-ones in their home over the Christmas-period, but banned from doing the exact same thing in a pub. 

It comes as a small number of football fans are set to be allowed back into stadiums in Tier 2 areas when lockdown ends tomorrow. 

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But the contrast in the rules has sparked uproar among landlords and hospitality chiefs - who will have to demand their customers buy a substantial meal with their drinks. 

One of those to hit out at the rules is celebrity chef Tom Kerridge - who runs the two-Michelin star gastropub the Hand and Flowers in London.

One of those to hit out at the rules is celebrity chef Tom Kerridge - who runs the two-Michelin star gastropub the Hand & Flowers in London

One of those to hit out at the rules is celebrity chef Tom Kerridge - who runs the two-Michelin star gastropub the Hand & Flowers in London

It comes as a small number of football fans are set to be allowed back into stadiums in Tier 2 areas when lockdown ends tomorrow

It comes as a small number of football fans are set to be allowed back into stadiums in Tier 2 areas when lockdown ends tomorrow

The strange kinks and loopholes in the government's updated Tier system  

- Football fans will be allowed to drink at football stadiums without having to buy a substantial meal, but those watching the same match at a pub will;

- Football fans at a pub will have to buy a substantial meal in order to get a drink, but film-lovers at cinemas will not have to;

- Football fans can buy a drink inside the stadium's concourses and will have to drink it there, but they won't be able to drink it in the open air of the stadium (this is due to long-standing rule - though scientists have regularly said throughout the pandemic that the risk of Covid transmission is higher indoors than outdoors);

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- Hairdressers will still be able to serve hot and cold drinks to their clients without a substantial meal, but pubs cannot (it is not yet clear if salons will still be able to offer free alcoholic drinks)

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He said: 'There are many landlords who cannot understand why people will be able to go to a theatre or cinema and have a drink – yet not being able to sit with their friends in a socially distant and Covid secure environment.

'So much money has been spent throughout the hospitality industry to put PPE together and make places Covid-secure but now they are at the point where they face closure.

'Without more Government support this is a position where pubs are going to struggle'.

Jonathan Neame, head of the Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham, Kent, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Landlords are bewildered and think it's completely unfair and disproportionate.

'These are real people with real lives, struggling to put food on the table and worried about jobs and their lives. They cannot understand why they have done all they can to follow the rules so assiduously when they were open, they are now being singled out and targeted for unfair treatment.

'If we lose our pubs we lose the soul of our communities. I cannot understand why when there is an outbreak you have to close a village pub 100 miles away. The communities around them don't understand and nor do the licensees.'

Their comments come after it was today announced that  football fans returning to stadiums will be exempt from Tier 2 rules which state they can only be served alcohol with a substantial meal.

Supporters will be forced to stay in concourses and must be seated to consume food and drink.

Hospitality in sports venues must also take last orders at 10pm and will be forced to close at 11pm.

Arsenal will welcome back fans for their Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna on Thursday while the north London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium this weekend will also have supporters.

The move has widely been welcomed by football fans, while Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh has called for the current rules to be changed to allow supporters to drink in sight of the pitch.

Football fans have been banned from drinking while in view of the football pitch for more than 35 years - and instead go to bars in the stadium concourses.

The move has widely been welcomed by football fans, while Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh has called for the current rules to be changed to allow supporters to drink in sight of the pitch

The move has widely been welcomed by football fans, while Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh has called for the current rules to be changed to allow supporters to drink in sight of the pitch

But Mr Kavanagh told TalkSport that he believes the ban should be lifted to stop supporters gathering in indoor areas to get a drink before and during the match.

He said: '(Under the current rules) supporters will be gathering in indoor areas and you don't want that.'  

Meanwhile pubs are coming up with new ways work within the rules of the updated Tier system.

The Wetherspoon pub chain has launched a new breakfast menu ahead of tomorrow's reopening, include a muffin range and reducing the price of coffee and tea to 99p.

Customers can choose from four new breakfast muffins – egg and bacon; egg and sausage; breakfast (with bacon and sausage); and egg and cheese

Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: 'We are continually striving to provide our customers with great quality, choice and value and this new breakfast muffin range adds to our already-huge range of breakfast menu choices.' 

Some pubs have now brought out new menus, with one offering a 'Boris Menu' of £1.99 meals - while Wetherspoon has launched a new breakfast muffin range.

It comes as today a row deepened over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a 'substantial meal' under rules only allowing alcohol to be served with food from tomorrow.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC two scotch eggs would be 'a starter', 24 hours after Environment Secretary George Eustice said one is a substantial meal. 

A row has broken out over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a 'substantial meal'

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a 'Boris Menu' such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a 'Boris Menu' such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

Michael Gove on scotch eggs today 
7:55am - LBC: 'A couple of scotch eggs is a starter as far as I'm concerned.' 8:40am - Good Morning Britain: 'As far as I’m concerned it's probably a starter' 9.25am - ITV News: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal.'

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Mr Gove reiterated his stance on LBC in a second interview on Good Morning Britain - before backtracking and then telling ITV News: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal.'

The confusion comes after the Government said people going into tier two from tomorrow will have to have a 'substantial meal' to allow them to buy a pint. 

The law says a substantial meal is 'might be expected to be served as breakfast, the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at such a meal'. 

Today, LBC's Nick Ferrari asked Mr Gove at about 7.55am: 'Do you class a scotch egg as a substantial meal? There does seem to be a degree of debate about this.'

Mr Gove replied: 'A couple of scotch eggs is a starter as far as I'm concerned, but I do recognise that there is a… with pickle on the side... but there is, to be serious, there is a well-understood definition of what a substantial meal is.

'If you're taking your nephews and nieces, your sons and daughters, and they're 16 and 17, out to the pub, they can have an alcoholic drink provided it's with a substantial meal. So it's already a definition in law.'

Then, at 8.40am, Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan asked Mr Gove if a scotch egg is a substantial meal.

Mr Gove replied: 'As far as I'm concerned it's probably a starter, but the broader and more serious point we need to establish is there are reasonable rules about hospitality in order to keep us all safe. 

He later added: 'I made a jocular remark that my own preference when it comes to a substantial meal might more than just a scotch egg, but that's because I'm a hearty trencherman.' 

But by 9.25am, he had told ITV News in a third interview: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal. I myself would definitely scoff a couple of scotch eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise it is a substantial meal.' 

7.55am: Michael Gove told LBC: 'A couple of scotch eggs is a starter as far as I'm concerned'

7.55am: Michael Gove told LBC: 'A couple of scotch eggs is a starter as far as I'm concerned'

8.40am: Mr Gove tells Good Morning Britain: 'As far as I’m concerned it's probably a starter'

8.40am: Mr Gove tells Good Morning Britain: 'As far as I'm concerned it's probably a starter'

9.25am: Cabinet Office Minister Mr Gove tells ITV News: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal'

9.25am: Cabinet Office Minister Mr Gove tells ITV News: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal'

George Eustice's family farm in Cornwall sells (you guessed it) scotch eggs

George Eustice's family farm is well known for its scotch eggs, it has emerged. 

Trevaskis Farm near Camborne has a farm shop, restaurant and butchers. It also grows its own crops, fruit and vegetable

Mr Eustice's family had farmed in West Cornwall for six generations.  

Its website says its bakery specialises in 'doughnuts, quiches, pork pies, scotch eggs and our ever popular sausage rolls'. 

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Asked about Mr Eustice's comments last night, Boris Johnson's spokesman would not confirm whether the deep-fried sausagemeat and egg snack would count.

Landlords accused the Government of providing 'no clarity' on the substantial meal rule.

One Essex pub has launched a new £1.99 simplified food menu so that customers can enjoy alcoholic drinks, but do not have to spend lots of money or have a large meal.

Named 'The Boris Menu', The Kings Head in Gosfield is offering plates such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips.

Pub owner Matthew Arnold, 38, told Essex Live: 'Every time a new regulation is implemented it incurs a lot of time and cost for pubs to abide.

'It's the frustration that prompted the menu idea initially at the same time as catering for customers that don't necessarily want a large and costly meal each time they want to visit us.'

Meanwhile the Wetherspoon pub chain has launched a new breakfast menu ahead of tomorrow's reopening, include a muffin range and reducing the price of coffee and tea to 99p.

Customers can choose from four new breakfast muffins – egg and bacon; egg and sausage; breakfast (with bacon and sausage); and egg and cheese. 

The Wetherspoon pub chain has launched a new breakfast menu ahead of tomorrow's reopening, include a muffin range. The egg and sausage muffin will be on sale at £2.39 each

The Wetherspoon pub chain has launched a new breakfast menu ahead of tomorrow's reopening, include a muffin range. The egg and sausage muffin will be on sale at £2.39 each

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

Almost 750 of the company's 875 pubs will be serving the egg and cheese muffin at £1.99, egg and bacon muffin and also egg and sausage muffin at £2.39 each and breakfast muffin at £2.59.

What is a scotch egg and where does the name come from?

The history of Scotch eggs is disputed - as is the name itself.

Some say they were invented in the 18th century by London grocers Fortnum & Mason as travelling snacks for coach passengers. 

Others, however, say they were devised by Scottish farmers who kept pigs and chickens.

A boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, dipped in breadcrumbs and deep-fried - it couldn't sound more Scottish if it tried.

But according to food historian Alan Davidson, the Scotch egg actually hails from India - brought home by returning soldiers of the British Empire.

It is a descendant of the Indian dish nargisi kofta, which consists of eggs covered in minced lamb and cooked in curried tomatoes.

It wasn't until the early 19th century that the first written reference to Scotch eggs popped up - with the recommendation that they be eaten hot with gravy - in the Cook And Housewife's Manual, thought to be secretly penned by Ivanhoe author Sir Walter Scott.  Some have said they should have been called Scott's eggs. 

Others claim the delicacy came from Whitby Bay, North Yorkshire, who used a fish paste instead of sausagemeat.  

At that time they were called 'Scotties eggs' because  the shop was called  William J Scott & Sons.

It could also have come from the word scotching, a loose culinary term linked to mincing meat.

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Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: 'We are continually striving to provide our customers with great quality, choice and value and this new breakfast muffin range adds to our already-huge range of breakfast menu choices.' 

Jonathan Neame, head of the Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham, Kent, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Landlords are bewildered and think it's completely unfair and disproportionate.

'These are real people with real lives, struggling to put food on the table and worried about jobs and their lives. They cannot understand why they have done all they can to follow the rules so assiduously when they were open, they are now being singled out and targeted for unfair treatment.

'If we lose our pubs we lose the soul of our communities. I cannot understand why when there is an outbreak you have to close a village pub 100 miles away. The communities around them don't understand and nor do the licensees.'

Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge added: 'There are many landlords who cannot understand why people will be able to go to a theatre or cinema and have a drink – yet not being able to sit with their friends in a socially distant and Covid secure environment.

'So much money has been spent throughout the hospitality industry to put PPE together and make places Covid-secure but now they are at the point where they face closure.

'Without more Government support this is a position where pubs are going to struggle'.

Yesterday, Mr Eustice confirmed that customers would not have to go home as soon as they had finished their drink.

More than 57 per cent of England's population will be in tier two, with severe restrictions imposed on pubs. 

In the harsher tier three, affecting more than 41 per cent of the population, pubs and restaurants can only operate on a takeaway or delivery basis.

The Environment Secretary said the 'substantial meal' provision in tier two was 'understood very much by the restaurant trade'. 

He told LBC Radio yesterday: 'I think a Scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal if there were table service. Often that might be as a starter, but yes I think it would.'

On the 'substantial meal' rule, Mr Eustice said: 'The evidence has been that some of the challenges we have had with pubs were where you had large groups of people congregating and actually not maintaining social distancing, they were just drinking.

How a scotch egg is a substantial meal... but has fewer calories than a sausage roll which isn't! 

The rules dished out by the Government on what does and does not constitute a substantial meal have brought widespread confusion and ridicule.

It emerged today that a scotch egg is allowed, despite it containing just 265kcal in calories, 16.8g in carbohydrates, 11.1g in protein and 16.5g in fat.

But compare that to a sausage roll, which has 408kcal in calories, 30.7g in carbohydrates, 10.1g in protein and 26.7g in fat.

Another item considered a bar snack rather than a substantial meal is a pork pie, which is also more filling than a scotch egg - coming in with 361kcal in calories, 24.9g in carbohydrates, 12.2g in protein and 23.2g in fat.

An egg sandwich with pickles and beetroot has 446kcal, while almost exactly the same thing without pickles or beetroot has 296kcal.

The pickles and beetroot are important, after the 1965 case of Timmis v Millman which established that sandwiches being eaten in a pub were a 'table meal' because they were 'assisted by the pickles and beetroot'.

SCOTCH EGG

Calories: 265kcal

Carbohydrates: 16.8g

Protein 11.1g  

Fat: 16.5g 

CORNISH PASTY WITH CHIPS

Calories: 1,478kcal 

Carbohydrates: 179.4g

Protein: 39.9g

Fat: 76.6g

SANDWICH WITH PICKLES AND BEETROOT

Calories: 446kcal

Carbohydrates: 67.4g

Protein: 19.3g

Fat: 11g

SAUSAGE ROLL

Calories: 408 kcal 

Carbohydrate: 30.7g

Protein: 10.1g 

Fat: 26.7g

PORK PIE

Calories: 361kcal

Carbohydrates: 24.9g

Protein: 12.2g

Fat: 23.2g

SANDWICH WITHOUT PICKLES AND BEETROOT

Calories: 296kcal

Carbohydrates: 25.9g

Protein: 17.3g

Fat: 11g

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'They were more likely to maintain social distancing sat down and having a meal.'

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. 

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He also admitted that the rules brought in by ministers are not 'perfectly fair' nor consistent.

'The measures we're taking are all about trying to break the cycle of infection and that doesn't mean that every rule that we introduce and every requirement we put on people is perfectly consistent or might even be considered perfectly fair – indeed, they won't be,' he said.

He also said customers will not have to go home after finishing the final mouthful of their food but warned: 'You can't sit at a table all night ordering drink.'

Mr Eustice's views on the Scotch egg are not the first time a minister has caused confusion over what constitutes a substantial meal. 

Before England's national lockdown, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that a Cornish pasty would count – but only if served with chips or salad.

'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,' he said.

Asked about Mr Eustice's comments yesterday, Downing Street insisted that the concept of a 'substantial meal' was well understood in the hospitality industry without saying whether that included a Scotch egg.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman refused to spell out the difference between a 'bar snack' and a meal.

Pressed on whether the rules permit pints being served alongside sausage rolls, pork pies, or a ploughman's lunch, he said: 'I'm obviously not going to get into the detail of every possible meal.

'But we've been clear: Bar snacks do not count as a substantial meal but it's well established practice in the hospitality industry what does.' 

However Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of the Rose Inn in Norwich was none the wiser.

'There's no clarity on it,' she said. 'I think we'd get some clarity if we could understand what the meaning of restricting people to a substantial meal would be. If there was any clarity on what that's all about, that would be helpful.

'It's down to everyone's interpretation and nobody really knows what they're meant to be doing, nobody knows if they do serve a Scotch egg as a substantial meal if they're going to get into trouble.'

Fancy a pint? You'll have to buy a meal or a starter with chips - not just crisps... but a scotch egg will do

The Government has been accused of making it up as it goes along on the 'substantial meal' rule.

As a rule of thumb any bar snack or starter counts - as long as it comes with chips and/or a salad - with the exception of a scotch egg, which is fine on its own. 

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' or offer a takeaway service. 

A substantial meal is defined loosely as something served as a main 'breakfast, lunchtime or evening meal' 

Here is what we know about what is and isn't classed as a substantial meal:

Scotch egg - YES

George Eustice said the snack would constitute a 'substantial meal' under the rules which will only allow alcohol to be served with food in Tier 2 areas from Wednesday. 

He told LBC Radio: 'I think a Scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal if there were table service. Often that might be as a starter but yes I think it would'.

Pasty - NO

In October Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that a Cornish pasty served with chips or salad would count - not on its own.

'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,' he said.

Sausage rolls and pork pies - NO

There is a growing row over whether pork pies and sausage rolls should be treated in the same way as a scotch. But alas, for now, they will not.

The Local Government Association said recently: '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.' 

Sandwich - NO

Sandwiches are also banned - unless it is served with pickles, beetroot or a salad as a minimum 'to justify that it was a table meal and not a mere snack from the bar', legislation says.

Sausages on sticks - YES

The 1955 High Court case of Solomon v Green is central to this issue where the High Court ruled that sausages on sticks constituted a 'substantial meal'.  

Crisps and chips - NO

Diners will be required to eat 'substantial meals' rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks such as a bowl of chips.

Pizza - YES

Initially pubs and restaurants were warned that pizzas had to be sold whole rather than in slices to constitute a 'substantial meal'.

Police told a Manchester bar to stop serving single slices of 22-inch pizza - before the

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