A LANCASHIRE pub owner has started selling meals for 1p so he can stay open during the Tier 3 lockdown.
Pubs and bars that don't serve main meals are forced to shut in areas that have been put in the government's "very high" risk category.
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Andy MacDonald, 36, is the landlord of the Ships and Giggles pub in Preston, which was placed under the strictest Covid rules last Friday.
To avoid shutting down, he began serving free fish nuggets and chips on Saturday but council chiefs said he was flouting the rules because the food technically wasn't being sold.
From today, the determined landlord will now be charging punters 1p for meals to get around the regulations.
Andy said: "I'm providing a free meal for people who don't have much – and we've been told we can't do that. It's an absolute disgrace.
"We have done so much to ensure we can operate during Covid, and now we're told we need to shut again. It's ridiculous.
"We are fighting to stay alive, we are fighting for our customers, and for our staff who all deserve better."
The furious pub owner added: "But the responsibility lies with the government. They have gone absolutely mad. They should have kept us all closed.
"Instead they've reopened everything, then blamed it on the hospitality sector.
"They have lost the plot – and it could cost us everything."
Andy, who's originally from Lossiemouth, in Scotland, blamed a lack of clarity of lockdown rules from the council.
He said he was contacted by a member of the environmental team at 5pm on Wednesday, just in time for first orders, to say they couldn't open.
Andy claims that the advice from the council online was then later updated to say "premises cannot provide free food to accompany alcohol that has been purchased."
Taking to social media on Wednesday, he said he was "disgusted" and "disheartened".
He went on to explain that from now on, meals will be on a "pay what you want" basis with a minimum spend of a penny.
Andy wrote: "If you have been affected financially, pay a penny, if you haven't, pay a little more.
"And our meals are now improved, and by this weekend, we will have an even larger amount of food available.
"We will also hold your table for two hours in order to control anyone that wants to consume alcohol."
The landlord added that he is doing "everything in his power" to stay afloat and at the same time "shine some light during these mentally and financially dark times."
He added that up until now, he hadn't has any run ins with the local council and hopes to work with them to ensure the pub and its team can stay open and employed.
A statement from Preston City Council said that it "actively defended businesses" across the city but added there are firm restrictions in place that businesses must follow if they want to stay open safely.
This includes the rules that only allow alcohol to be served as part of a main meal if the customer has purchased it.
The statement continued: "We cannot guarantee that further restriction will not be implemented if the rate does not go down.
"While our preference will always be to work with you to meet the necessary standards, there is increased pressure and expectation that the council takes enforcement action wherever businesses are not meeting Covid requirements."
Earlier this month, government health chief Jonathan Van-Tam said the 10pm coronavirus pub curfew should be pulled forward to 6pm “or even earlier”.
It comes as police have told pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 London to snoop on their customers by checking IDs for names and addresses to make sure households aren't mixing.
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