Ordering a Scotch egg in a pub would probably count as a "substantial meal”, a Cabinet minister has said.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said it could let drinkers get around the Tier 2 restrictions in England.
From Wednesday when the national lockdown ends, booze can only be served with food in pubs and restaurants in the middle tier.
More than 57% of the population is covered by Tier 2, which includes London, Liverpool and York.
Mr Eustice insisted the "substantial meal" provision was "understood very much by the restaurant trade”.
He told LBC Radio: "I think a Scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal if there were table service.
"Often that might be as a starter but yes I think it would.
"But this is a term that's understood in licensing since it is, you can have the concept of a table licence for alcohol that also requires you to serve a substantial meal.
"That is the model that is being followed.”
Punters were "were more likely to maintain social distancing sat down and having a meal” in boozers, he added.
But he admitted the restrictions may not be "perfectly consistent" or fair.
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He told Sky News people could stay at the pub to finish their drinks, but should not have a "small meal and then sit at the table all night ordering drinks".
Critics said it was "farcical".
In the harsher Tier 3, affecting more than 41% of the population, pubs and restaurants can only operate on a takeaway or delivery basis.
Downing Street insisted the concept of a "substantial meal" was well understood in the hospitality industry without saying whether that included a Scotch egg.
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The Prime Minister's official spokesman refused to spell out the difference between a "bar snack" and a meal.
He said: “I’m obviously not going to get into the detail of every possible meal.
“But we have been clear bar snacks do not count as a substantial meal.
“It’s a well established practice in the hospitality industry what does.”
Under the previous tiers system before the second national lockdown, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested a Cornish pasty served with chips or salad would count.
MPs will vote on the new rules for the tier system on Tuesday.
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