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'Substantial Meal' Rule For Pubs To Serve Alcohol Is Scrapped As Boris Johnson Calls Time On "Scotch Egg Debate"

3 min read

Boris Johnson has announced that pubs will be able to serve alcohol without food, and there will be no curfew once they are allowed to reopen under the latest lockdown easing measures.

The Prime Minister has dropped a controversial rule introduced under the tiering system which had forced pubs and bars to only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

The plans had triggered a bizarre row which saw ministers grilled over whether certain foods, including Scotch eggs, counted under the policy, or if they required additional side servings to be considered a main meal.

The policy left a series of ministers with Scotch egg on their face after they repeatedly contradicted themselves, with cabinet office minister Michael Gove suggesting two Scotch eggs would count as a starter, just 24 hours after Enviroment Secretary George Eustice claimed a single serving of the snack would count as a substantial meal.

But outlining the lockdown easing roadmap to MPs on Monday, Mr Johnson confirmed both the meal clause and the need for curfews would be dropped when pubs are given the greenlight to open outdoors on 12 April.

He said MPs would be "relieved" by the changes, adding: "There will be no curfew and the Scotch egg debate will be over because there will be no requirement for alcohol to be served with a substantial meal."

And the PM told MPs that further easing of restrictions on 17 May would see pubs, bars and restaurants allowed to begin serving people indoors again.

It came after a similar row broke out in Autumn when the tier system was first introduced as ministers struggled to explain whether a Cornish pasty would be considered a substantial meal under the rules.The policy triggered a wave of confusion after it was announced that local councils and police forces would be left to enforce the rules, leading to potential disparities in how businesses were treated.

One Manchester businessman, Jonny Heyes, told PoliticsHome at the time that the policy had become a "bit of a joke".

Heyes, the co-owner of Common bar, which was required to follow the rules after the city was placed into Tier 3 restrictions in October, said police officers asked to enforce the plans didn't have "any information about what actually constitutes a substantial meal".

"They're just winging it," he said.

"As far as I can tell there is no proper guidance. The governmeny policty is just so woolly, there's no clarity."

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