A fuming pub owner is charging hungry punters 1p a meal so he can stay open under the government’s controversial new tier restrictions.
Andy MacDonald, who runs the Ships and Giggles boozer in Preston, Lancashire, was originally giving his grub away for free.
Lancashire was placed under the strictest Covid-19 rules last week, Friday (October 16).
In a bid to keep afloat, the landlord was offering free chicken and chips with “no catches”.
The fed-up pint puller posted on social media: "You’re more than welcome to eat as many as you like.
"There aren't any catches. I just can’t be arsed listening to government anymore. I’ve got nothing to lose now.”
But just under a week later the business owner has been told that he can’t give food away and encourage people to buy pints.
Under Tier 3 lockdown, pubs and bars can only remain open when they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving "substantial meals”.
And boozers can only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
Council bosses clamped down on the unusual business strategy and told him he was breaking the rules.
According to the council, meals must be purchased by a customer if they want to also by alcohol.
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So savvy Andy, who goes by the name Andy Mac, has started charging a penny – and said the government has "lost the plot".
He fumed: “When we put the free meals on, so many people told us how grateful they were because people are struggling during this pandemic.
"So many have expressed how thankful they were and we were happy to do it as we understand, we are trying to survive too.
"But when we were told that we couldn't do that it was a breaking point for me.
"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.
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"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."
He said the advice and guidance given has been unacceptable and confusing as "substantial" could mean anything.
He added: "But the responsibility lies with the government. They have gone absolutely mad. They should have kept us all closed.
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"Instead they've reopened everything, then blamed it on the hospitality sector.
"They have lost the plot – and it could cost us everything."
Andy said he was left feeling "disgusted" and "disheartened" after he was told to stop serving free food at the pub.
He claims the muddled guidance was "miraculously" amended on the day he was informed to say the meal must be purchased by the customer.
The landlord is now letting customers pay what they want for grub – from a penny or more if they can afford it.
A spokesman for Preston Council said on social media: “As you may be aware from the media, we actively defended businesses across Preston on the basis of the efforts taken and adaptations made to ensure Covid safety.
“There are firm restrictions that have been put into place, relating to pubs, bars and restaurants, such as: 'alcohol can only be served as part of a main meal', 'the meal must be purchased by the customer'.
"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."
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