Pub bosses’ crafty bids to evade rule on ‘substantial meals’ as Michael Gove causes more Scotch egg confusion


ENGLAND’S canny pub bosses aim to get round new Tier 2 food rules and start serving again from today — with one letting customers order McDonald’s to their table.

Others are offering deals on Scotch eggs after a minister claimed they qualified as a “substantial meal” under Covid rules limiting booze sales.

Landlords of pubs up and down the country are coming up with crafty solutions to the Covid rules
Fred Balin serves Abiye Cole a pint & hotdog at Dartmouth Arms, North West London

With the Cabinet making a meal of explaining the latest restrictions replacing the national lockdown, Michael Gove caused more confusion.

He first contradicted Environment Secretary George Eustice by saying a Scotch egg cannot be classed as a substantial meal, which reopening Tier 2 pubs must serve with alcohol.

Mr Gove told LBC radio: “A couple of Scotch eggs is a starter, as far as I’m concerned.”

But the Minister for the Cabinet Office left listeners more baffled when he uttered the words “with pickle on the side”.

And he told Good Morning Britain: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s probably a starter.”


Yet minutes later, he agreed with Mr Eustice, telling ITV News: “A Scotch egg is a substantial meal. I myself would definitely scoff a couple of Scotch eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise it is a substantial meal.”

It follows his gaffe when he said it was “basic good manners” to wear a face mask when visiting a cafe, only to be pictured without one.

Labour shadow minister Bridget Phillipson said: “Michael Gove ended up with egg on his face again this morning because even he can’t crack how these rules will work.”

Boris Johnson’s spokesman was unable to clarify and simply said it was up to punters and pubs “to act reasonably and exercise good judgment”.

The Federation of Small Businesses called for urgent clarity as thousands of pubs prepared to re-open today.

Burnham Ramblers have designed a specialist Christmas menu in order allow them to open their bar to the public

Thira Gob is selling takeaway pints with sealed lids at an East London pub

The Sheaf pub in Borough market have devised a ‘substantial meal deal’

The G-A-Y bar in London’s Soho, which does not normally serve food, was preparing to let customers have McDonald’s meals delivered to get around the rules.

Owner Jeremy Joseph said: “McDonald’s was chosen because of its cheap menu which means everyone can socialise no matter their budget.”

Elsewhere, the Caxton Arms in Brighton is even selling a pint called the “Substantial Meal”.

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex, has launched a bargain “Boris Menu” of £1.99 meals to attract customers.

Burnham Ramblers FC in Essex has a Baubles to Boris Christmas menu to open its clubhouse bar to the public. The Dartmouth Arms, North West London, will sell hotdogs with a pint.


And The Smithfield in Tier 3 Derby is selling takeaway pints in jam jars.

Meanwhile, darts fans will be able to booze at Alexandra Palace in North London under a Tier 2 loophole allowing ticket holders to drink.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “It’s outrageous you can have a pint in a theatre, concert hall, cinema or sports ground without a substantial meal, but not the pub. It is a slap in the face of pubs and brewers.”

But drinking rules are simpler for punters toasting the end of lockdown in Britain’s most remote pub – 100 miles off the mainland in Tier 1 Scilly Isles.



Fraggle Rock landlord Chris Hopkins said: “It tastes like freedom.”

Many pubs and restaurants across the country are expected to be packed — and are already fully booked for the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, reopening stores will use security staff to control hordes today, with Ikea and Primark — which does not have a website — braced for the craziest scenes.

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