Under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19
Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020, pubs and bars must close;
they can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant -
which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal;
they may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
What is a ‘substantial meal’?
A substantial meal is described as something that would be a
main lunchtime or evening meal. Clearly
this is open to interpretation, and some degree of common-sense has to be
applied. For instance, it would be
difficult to argue that a 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.
Can someone order a drink and then a meal afterwards?
No, the alcoholic drink must be secondary to the meal, and
so cannot be ordered separately.
Can customers share a meal?
No, each customer must each order a meal to be able to have
an alcoholic drink.
How many drinks can be ordered with a meal?
Again, this is open to interpretation, and we have to
consider the spirit of the regulations, which is not to allow alcohol to be
consumed unless part of a substantial meal.
We need to think about what is reasonable. If someone was eating a light meal (for
example a jacket potato, or a sandwich with side salad) it would not be
reasonable for them to order three or four drinks with it. On the other hand, someone ordering a three-course
meal that might be eaten over an hour or couple of hours might reasonably have
several drinks or a bottle of wine during the entire meal. It would similarly not be reasonable for
someone to order just a sandwich and eat it slowly over the course of an hour
or more whilst having numerous alcoholic drinks.
Can customers order more drinks once they have finished
No, once they have finished their meal, alcohol cannot be
served to them.
I don’t currently serve food in my premises – can I start preparing
food, or buy ready to eat food in and serve it so that I can stay open?
If you don’t currently offer meals, your premises must
close. We recognise however that
businesses may want to diversify in order to reopen as a restaurant, and we
will do what we can to support this. We
will look at each business on a case by case basis. If you wish to start offering food, please
contact us for advice. This is not only
to ensure you are complying with Coronavirus regulations, but also that you are
able to meet required food hygiene standards.
You need to ensure that your storage, preparation and serving areas are
suitable, and that anyone handling food has been trained to a level
commensurate with their activity. If you
wish to serve food that has been prepared elsewhere, you still have a
responsibility to ensure that the food is safe to eat using the principles of
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), and must show that it has
been handled safely all the way from preparation through delivery to service.
Can my customers bring a takeaway meal in and just order
alcohol from my premises?
No. This would not
meet the requirement of a premises ‘operating as if they were a
restaurant’. A restaurant would not
permit customers to bring in their own food.
What are the rules about people from different households
In ‘Tier 3’ areas, people from different households or
support bubbles must not mix either indoors or outdoors. The only exception is that up to 6 people may
meet in public locations such as public parks and gardens, beaches,
woodlands). This means that you must not
allow people from different households to meet on your premises, either indoors
Could I host a party of people from different households
(for example a hen party or baby shower) if I sat each household on different
No, this would not be acceptable – this would be classed as
a gathering and not permitted. It would
not extremely difficult to ensure that people from different tables did not
What are the rules about weddings, wedding receptions,
funerals and wakes?
Weddings and civil partnerships may only take place with 15
people or less. Wedding receptions (i.e.
any form of social gathering after the ceremony itself) are not permitted.
Funeral services maybe attended by up to 30 people, and
wakes up to 15. Where food or drink is
served at wakes, this should be in the form of a sit-down meal to discourage
people from mixing outside their household / bubble groups.
For all such events, people must adhere to the rules on
Do people still need to wear masks, give details for Test and
Yes, all customers must wear masks unless seated at their
table; all staff who are ‘front of house’ and not behind a screen must also
wear a mask.
You must also display the NHS Test and Trace QR code, and
have your own method of recording customer details for people who don’t have
If you have any other questions, please contact the Council
on 01257 515151
Please note that this advice may change at short notice. If in doubt, check.
This advice is for guidance only to ensure consistency, it
does not constitute legal advice