What's a "Substantial Meal"?

Questions over what is a "substantial meal" under the Tier 2 rules in England have been raised since Wednesday 2nd December 2020 when the new Tier rules came in.

Posted: 201207


Since the end of Lockdown 2 in England on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 there has been the change to new tougher tiered local restrictions. Many parts of the country have been placed under the Tier 2 'high alert' restrictions which mean pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol as part of a "substantial meal". But the term "substantial meal" has caused some confusion for people around the UK wondering what qualifies and what doesn't.

According to GOV UK, during a substantial meal "full table service must be provided" and the person eating must be seated. But although the term "substantial meal" was not clearly defined, it is felt that it was meant, in the spirit of it, to mean a sit down meal - the kind of meal you would have at lunch on a Sunday at home or at a restaurant. But at lunchtime a substantial meal can often be less substantial than dinner or supper.

There have been reports of golf clubs serving soup as a substantial meal at lunchtime - and indeed a bowl of parsnip soup can easily be a substantial dish and certainly more than satisfying many diners' needs at lunchtime. Scotch eggs and similar items have also been suggested as "substantial". Is this the end of dried roasted nuts or pork scratchings with a pint of ale?

Would a full English afternoon tea with scones and a selection of cakes qualify - well certainly tucking into a full menu at around 4pm would be felt to be substantial dining, but an afternoon tea is not normally associated with the consumption of alcohol! As inevitably there would be a few cakes remaining on the cake tray, establishing whether dining had ended might be difficult! Maybe there would be time for a glass of champagne!
What are Tier 2 restrictions?
According to the UK Government, the Tier 2 High alert level is for areas "with a higher or rapidly rising level of infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place".
In Tier 2:
> You must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in public.
> You must follow the rule of six and not socialise in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or public space.
> Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law - such as nightclubs.
> Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants.
> Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
> Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises must provide table service only, where alcohol is served, and close between 11pm and 5am (with venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway services exempt). They must not take any orders after 10pm.
> Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm, as long as it is through delivery, click-and-collect or drive-through.

> Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm.
> Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is allowed, limited to 50 per cent capacity of 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 indoors, depending which is lower.
> Public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and with the same rules regarding capacity as above.
Places of worship remain open but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies.
Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers - 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings.
> Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue.
> Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
> You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.
> If you live in a Tier 2 area, you must continue to follow Tier 2 rules when you travel to a Tier 1 area. Avoid travel or overnight stayed in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through a Tier 3 area as part of a longer journey.