When is a pub not a pub, and is a Cornish pasty a proper meal? These are the questions facing the hospitality industry in Britain as new coronavirus restrictions bite.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced new restrictions on the northwestern English city of Liverpool to deal with a surge in cases of Covid-19 — including shutting pubs and bars.
But establishments that serve a “substantial meal, like a main lunchtime or evening meal” will be allowed to stay open, according to officials, raising questions as to what exactly this is.
Many a pint is consumed in Britain with a packet of crisps or pork scratchings, while sausage rolls and cornish pasties are also often served at the bar.
Government minister Robert Jenrick said establishments that served “the sort of meal you’d expect to have for lunch” would be exempt — ruling out crisps or a plate of chips.
“If you’d expect to go into that restaurant or pub normally 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 told LBC radio.
He said licensing laws had for years made a distinction between pubs that only served alcohol and those that served food, in the context of which premises were allowed to admit under 18s.
“It’s the same rule as is applied if youde take a minor into a pub. You can’t do so unless they have a substantial meal alongside the alcoholic drink,” he said.
But the British Beer and Pub Association says the issue is not as clear cut, and a spokesman told AFP it was urgently seeking “clarity” on the rules.
The industry is still struggling with the effect of a nationwide virus lockdown imposed in March, and last month in England a 10:00 pm curfew was imposed on all pubs, restaurants and bars.
Further measures that close pubs “will devastate our sector and the communities it serves”, BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said.