Wetherspoons is exempt from the new lockdown rules thanks to serving food

Boozers such as Wetherspoons could be exempt from England’s toughest lockdown restrictions.

The popular chain could be allowed to remain open for business whilst other bars and pubs are forced to close for a month.

Boris Johnson outlined tough measures for Tier 3 towns and cities that will see hospitality venues forced to shut for four weeks at a time.

But Wetherspoons might be an exemption and allowed to keep pulling pints.

That is because pubs that serve food will be allowed to remain open in Merseyside – the only area in England currently in Tier 3.

Liverpool is under the toughest restrictions as it qualifies for the highest level of alert.

The city’s rules will be the first example of what a Tier 3 lockdown looks like.

Under the new plans pubs will have to close if they do not “substantially” sell food.

According to the Guardian “food-based pubs” will be able to keep trading.

Wetherspoons is somewhat known for its grub – being a fan favourite for a pint and spot of breakfast during early morning airport trips.

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And the government’s ruling that pubs offering food can stay open would mean the chain, along with other gastro pubs, would be able to keep trading.

Josh Halliday, north of England correspondent at the Guardian, tweeted: “I'm told that 'food-based pubs' such as Wetherspoons will be allowed to stay open in Merseyside while pubs and bars that don't "substantially" serve food will have to close later this week.”

He later said that Wetherspoons had not decided whether to continue trading in Liverpool and would be studying “the detail”.

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Boris Johnson said in a televised address: “Pubs and bars must close unless they can operate solely as a restaurant, serving alcohol only as part of a main meal.”

The ambiguity has sparked a debate over what counts as a "substantial" meal.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that a Cornish Pasty would count as a “normal meal” if it came with a portion of chips or side salad and was served on a plate, to a table.

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Alongside a lockdown of Merseyside, Johnson pledged £28million for businesses forced to shut.

This will be made up of £14 million to help clinically vulnerable people and set up enforcement measures, and a further £14 million to bolster local contact-tracing teams.

Tier 3 lockdowns will be launched where social distancing measures in tier 2 clampdowns fail to contain the virus.

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