Under the new coronavirus restrictions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, bars can remain open and serve alcoholic beverages to patrons as long as they order a “big meal”.
However, what constituted a “big meal” was up for debate, as a government minister insisted that a packet of chips mattered.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrik suggested that the Corniche pie could be considered a “regular meal” if it came with a side of chips or salad and served on a plate, on a table.
Under the new three-level lockdown system, pubs and bars in areas under “red alert” in the UK may be forced to close unless they can operate as a restaurant.
“Pubs and bars should be closed unless they can only function as a restaurant, and only serve alcohol as part of the main meal,” Johnson said in a televised address.
Mr. Genrik told LBC on Tuesday that the meal should be “large” and “the type of meal you would expect as a midday meal or evening meal”.
“It would be like a main dish, instead of a box of french fries or a plate of potato chips, for example,” he said.
He added that many license holders would be aware of the procedures as they were similar to previous rules regarding minors.
“If you normally expect to go to this restaurant, or pub, and order a meal cooked on a Cornish pie table with chips or side salad or whatever comes with it, this is a normal meal,” said Mr. Jenrick.
“This is not an unusual concept as you might feel. We have put this in law for license holders for a long time because it’s the same rule that applies if you take a minor to a bar.
“You can only do this if they have a big meal alongside alcoholic drinks, so the people who actually run pubs and bars will be aware of this and know how to operate it.”
Official guidelines for areas in the “very high” alert category, covering Liverpool, state: “Pubs and bars must be closed and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means large meals, such as prime lunchtime or meals. Evening “.
Many people have turned to Twitter to speculate about what a “meal staple” might consist of, with some showing displeasure that a pack of chips won’t count.
Someone asked, “Do 15 bags of potato chips and a box of pork scratches guarantee a big meal? A friend asked.”
Another said, “I consider Guinness a great meal, well, six pints is definitely.”
The jokes aside, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), a lobbying group for brewers and pubs, said more than 970 bars would be affected by the new restrictions.
Emma McLarkin, BBPA CEO, said in a statement: “Assigning bars to closures and more restrictions is simply a wrong and hugely unfair decision.
“If the government is going to really go ahead and force a lot of our sector to shut down, then a much stronger financial support package will be needed.”