Okay but what actually is a substantial meal? All the new Tier 2 pub rules

Please just let me have a pint I am begging you


After what’s been perhaps the worst year ever, the only thing left to lift our spirits is the pub – that is, until lockdown 2.0 began at the start of this month. On Wednesday it ends and the new tier system begins, and millions of us will finally be allowed back in the pubs. There’s just one problem, though: The government says if you’re in Tier 2, you must eat a “substantial meal” with your drinks.

But what does this mean? What on earth even counts as a substantial meal, how much do I have to eat and can I share my food with my mates? Most importantly, how much am I allowed to drink with my meal, or do I have to order a full roast dinner with every pint a la that tragic scene in The Inbetweeners?

These are all the new Tier 2 pub rules:

What is a substantial meal?

The government’s advice on what actually counts as a substantial meal is quite vague.

It says: “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).” The guidelines define “substantial meals” as “a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal”.

what is a substantial meal

Ahh yes that looks very substantial to me

Back in October, minister Robert Jenrick told LBC a substantial meal is “a main course”, rather than “a packet of crisps or a plate of chips.” He also said a Cornish pasty wouldn’t count on its own, but “plated meal” of a pasty with chips or a side salad would count as substantial.

Today however, minister George Eustice told LBC a scotch egg (yes he’s a Tory, why do you ask?) would count as a meal. He said: “I think a scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal if there were table service, and often that might be as a starter.”

If I share food does that count as a substantial meal?

Okay so now we’ve established a scotch egg inexplicably counts as a meal, how much do I actually have to eat with my pints?

Back in October, the Local Government Association said the rules around what counts as a substantial meal are “open to interpretation” and there’s “a degree of flexibility”.

However, they said sharing one meal with a group of mates probably wouldn’t count – so no trying to split your scotch egg into quarters. They said: “Whereas a platter or dishes designed to be shared could constitute a meal for a couple of people, sharing a single meal or plate of food between a group would be unlikely to be deemed a substantial meal.”

what is a substantial meal

Their substantial meal is on it’s way I promise

How many drinks can I order with my substantial meal?

There isn’t any detail on how many drinks you can have with your meal, or if you can have a drink before or after you eat.

On Friday, the government suggested you’d have to stop drinking and leave the pub once you’ve finished your food. However, scotch egg fan George Eustice has told Sky News people can finish their drinks, but should not have a “small meal and then sit at the table all night ordering drinks”.

He said: “I think you can finish your drink provided you are at a table and you have had a drink with a meal then, of course, you can finish your drink as well.”

What are the other Tier 2 pub rules?

Tier 2 pub curfew and last orders

Before lockdown there was a 10pm curfew, which has now been extended to 11pm for Tiers 1 and 2, with last orders now at 10pm. That gives you a whole extra hour of scotch egg fun!

Can I meet friends in Tier 2?

In Tier 2 you can’t mix with other households indoors, so I hope you like your housemates. You can meet people you don’t live with if it’s outside, though the rule of six still applies.

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