Tier 2 rules mean diners won't be able to order more drinks after they've finished their meal

People living in Tier 2 areas will have to leave restaurants and pubs immediately after finishing their food, Downing Street has said.

Under Tier 2 rules, pubs are only allowed to remain open where they serve "substantial meals", and must operate with table service only.

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In another blow to pubs, the Prime Minister's official spokesperson has now announced that drinkers will have to leave the premises once their meal is finished.

Asked how long drinkers are permitted to stay after purchasing “a substantial meal” - now required for the serving of alcoholic drinks - the spokesperson said: "We’ve been clear that, in Tier 2 I believe, that you need to have a substantial meal if ordering any alcohol and it remains the case that the guidance says that once the meal is finished, it is at that point.”

Questions raised over 'contradictory' rules

This rule is likely to cause anger among hospitality businesses - pubs especially - who have struggled through a year of restrictions and are set to struggle further through a period which is usually the busiest of the year.

The clarification comes after advice that customers wanting coffee or soft drinks will not have to purchase a "substantial meal" alongside them, sparking anger among publicans.

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Some business owners see the new Tier 2 rules as contradictory, questioning why a substantial meal is only required with an alcoholic drink.

Additional rules around hospitality in Tier 2 areas include allowing business lunches, and levying no restrictions on table sizes for people from the same household or support bubble.

The previous 10pm curfew has been extended, with drinkers and diners given an extra hour - until 11pm - to finish up before they must leave. Last orders, however, will remain at 10pm.

Previous guidance on social distancing and hygiene measures will apply, while mixing between people of different households or support bubbles is banned in Tier 2 areas.