Rules which will allow alcohol to be served in cinemas or sports stadiums in England without food are a "slap in the face" for pubs, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said.
Under Tier 2 restrictions, which are due to come into force on 2 December after a vote by MPs today, pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol alongside a ‘substantial meal'.
But in theatres, cinemas and sports stadiums, alcohol can be ordered at the bar to be consumed when seated or where the screening or performance is taking place.
If it is consumed in the bar area, it must be part of a meal and table service is required.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "As an industry on its knees, fighting to survive, we have invested over £500m to make our pubs Covid-secure, followed all the guidance and pioneered NHS Track & Trace. These new regulations now make a mockery of the great lengths we have gone to in making our pubs safe.
"Our pubs are safe and as such should be treated fairly in the same way as cinemas, theatres and sports grounds are. If the government isn't going to do this, then it must provide far greater support."
There has been confusion over what constitutes a ‘substantial meal' and how long customers can stay in a pub after eating in Tier 2 areas. Yesterday environment secretary George Eustice said guests could stay and finish their drinks, but could probably not "have a small meal and sit at a table all night ordering drinks".
He told LBC a scotch egg "probably would count" as a meal, if there was table service.
Last week the bosses of more than 50 pub and brewing companies, including Greene King, Heineken and Marston's, wrote to the prime minister warning that the sector faces ‘ruin' without more generous government support to counterbalance restrictions.