A London pub landlord will start selling scampi and chips for just £3 next week when he is forced to serve a ‘substantial meal’ to every drinker under Tier 2 restrictions.
Gary Murphy, of the Ye Old Mitre in High Barnet, said it would be impossible to grill his regular £10 dishes for each punter and so will deep fry everything at cut-price.
He is one of thousands of landlords across England steeling themselves for another bruising month after almost all the country was placed in the top two tiers.
After weeks of uncertainty, hospitality bosses today discovered their fate for when the national lockdown ends on December 2.
Venues in Tier 3 regions such as Manchester and Newcastle can only open for takeaways, which was branded a ‘hammer blow’ for the beleaguered sector.
And in Tier 2 pubs can only serve alcohol if bought with a ‘substantial meal’, leaving drink-led pubs weighing up whether it was even commercially viable to trade.
Gary Murphy of the Ye Old Mitre in High Barnet said it would be impossible to grill his regular £10 dishes for every customer and so will deep fry everything at cut-price
After weeks of uncertainty, hospitality bosses today discovered their fate for when the national lockdown ends on December 2
Mr Murphy, who makes 97 per cent of his profits from drinks, has overhauled his menu so his regular punters are not deterred from stopping by for a drink.
Customers will be able to buy either scampi, chicken or a burger and chips for just £3, he told MailOnline.
Usually the pub sells 8oz burgers with ‘all the trimmings’ for £10 which takes 20 minutes on the grill.
But Mr Murphy said doing that for every customer in his tiny kitchen would be impossible and so is replacing it with a deep fried burger with no bun.
He said today: ‘I think the meal requirement is nonsense but I’m opening out of desperation. I may not make a profit but hopefully I won’t carry on making a loss.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today revealed which regions are to fall into the three alert levels next week
London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier
Industry chiefs were left reeling from the announcement and demanded the Government publish the criteria upon which the tiers decision was based
He has not taken any personal earnings from the business since March and has been eating away at his savings and relying on his wife’s job.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today revealed which regions are to fall into the three alert levels next week. London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier.
Industry chiefs were left reeling from the announcement and demanded the Government publish the criteria upon which the tiers decision was based.
They lined up to lay bare the continued devastation awaiting the hospitality sector over the winter if the measures remain.
The borough of Westminster, in the heart of the city and boasting a vibrant nightlife, announced it was planning to relaunch its successful al fresco dining initiative. Pictured: Soho before lockdown
Sacha Lord, night-time economy manager for Manchester, said: ‘Tier 3 is yet another hammer blow for hospitality in Greater Manchester. Another day of the Government’s game of carrot and stick.
What does the law say about pubs serving a ‘substantial meal’?
There has been some doubt over the exact definition, with Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggesting last month that a Cornish pasty would only fall within the rules if it came on a plate with a salad or chips.
The widely-accepted definition is that it must be a proper meal, rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks.
But as far as the law goes:
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020
Requirement to close businesses selling alcohol for consumption on the premises 16.
- (1) A person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, bar or other business involving the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises must cease to carry on that business, unless paragraph (2) applies.
- (2) This paragraph applies if alcohol is only served for consumption on the premises as part of a table meal, and the meal is such as might be expected to be served as the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at either such meal.
- (3) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)—
- (a) alcohol sold by a hotel or other accommodation as part of room service is not to be treated as being sold for consumption on its premises;
- (b) an area adjacent to the premises of the business where seating is made available for customers of the business (whether or not by the business), or where customers gather to drink outside the business, is to be treated as part of the premises of that business.
- (4) For the purposes of this paragraph, a ‘table meal’ is a meal eaten by a person seated at a table, or at a counter or other structure which serves the purposes of a table and is not used for the service of refreshments for consumption by persons not seated at a table or structure serving the purposes of a table.
‘Our R-rate is plummeting thanks to the public. Lets see if they try to point score again, as we head nearer Tier 2. We will keep fighting.’
In the capital there was a mixed reaction with Londoners both relieved to have ducked Tier 3 but fearful that even Tier 2 restrictions could throttle the engine of the UK economy.
The borough of Westminster, in the heart of the city and boasting a vibrant nightlife, announced it was planning to relaunch its successful al-fresco dining initiative.
Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said: ‘Tier two status still leaves an incredibly challenging few months ahead for our thousands of pubs and bars.
‘Our priority as a council is to do everything we can to help them survive including extending the capital’s most expansive al-fresco dining scheme into the winter so that households can enjoy hospitality together outdoors in safety.’
Leading restaurateur Richard Caring, who owns chains including The Ivy and Bill’s, said he was ‘very glad’ that London was in Tier 2, but if it had gone into Tier 3 then ‘we might as well have turned out the lights’.
He told MailOnline: ‘These so-called politicians are advised purely by scientists and not commercial reality. They are destroying people faster than this virus.’
Mr Caring added: ‘The fact that these infections are falling so fast, it’s short sighted and ignorant what they’ve done in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.
‘That’s signing a death warrant for those areas which have been on their knees since March.’
The Campaign for Pubs, the Forum of British Pubs, and the British Pub Federation have launched a petition calling on the Government to set out an urgent package of support for the trade.
Pubs and restaurants have borne the brunt of restrictions throughout the pandemic and were shuttered in both national lockdowns.
The handful of pubs in Tier 1, however, were unsurprisingly bullish about the coming months.
Victoria Calder, who runs the Anchor and the Pier View in Cowes, and the Lifeboat in East Cowes, on the Isle of Wight told MailOnline: ‘It’s excellent news and we’re very pleased indeed.
‘There’s quite a lot of regulars who come in the day and just like to have a drink and would have been disappointed if they couldn’t do that.
‘Also in Tier 2 you can’t mix households, which is not good with Christmas party season coming up, but since the announcement this morning we’ve had the phone ringing constantly.’