IT has just been confirmed that Warrington will remain in tier 2 during the Christmas period.

So what does that mean for drinks during the festivities? Here is a quick guide.

Households cannot mix INSIDE pubs

People are banned from socialising in pubs with anyone who they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble.

Many would argue this defies the point of a British pub where in normal times people come to gather together.

But there is some hope for a beer with friends as if you are outside the pub – in say a beer garden – the rule of six applies.

Many Warrington pubs have also introduced heated, illuminated huts such as Pasha Lounge in the town centre, The Waterside in Centre Park, Chapelford Farm and The Rams Head in Grappenhall.

Thelwall's Little Manor has even introduced a teepee for al fresco dining and drinking.

But if you want to go with friends, you will need to check whether the pub defines its pods as 'indoors' or 'outdoors'.

Warrington Borough Council has, this afternoon, updated its guidance on winter huts and similar structures for al fresco dining during the pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “The definition of ‘indoors’ is defined by the smoke free legislation, so each venue’s pod(s) will need to be assessed on this basis.

"A place is indoors if it is ‘enclosed or substantially enclosed’, which means that ‘outdoor’ pods could be used following the rule of six, but for ‘indoor’ pods only households and support bubbles can gather in them.

“Venues should therefore risk assess each pod to determine if they are classed as ‘indoors’ or ‘outdoors’ in line with their other Covid-secure risk assessments.”

'Substantial meals'

The biggest change for the new version of tier 2 - introduced on December 2 - is that pubs will only be allowed to open if they can serve a 'substantial meal'.

'Wet-led' Warrington pubs like the Cheshire Cheese in Latchford are facing a tough Christmas as they have had to temporarily close or find ways to introduce a food service.

You must order food with your alcoholic drinks at the pub until restrictions ease.

So what is a 'substantial meal'? Unfortunately a bag of crisps does not suffice.

The government guidelines define it as 'a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal'.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC in October: "It would be like a main course, rather than, say, a packet of crisps or a plate of chips."

There are grey areas. Does say a single sausage roll or a snack pork pie suffice?

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said there is 'a degree of flexibility' and if it is served plated with accompaniments such as vegetables, salad, potatoes it 'could be considered substantial'.

You can't have more drinks after your meal

The initial guidelines only stated that alcoholic drinks must be served with food.

But last week, an official spokesperson for the Prime Minister said drinkers will have to leave the premises once they have finished their food rather than order another round.

How the curfew works

The previous 10pm closing time for tier 2 has been changed to 10pm last orders with an 11pm closing time.

But venues must still 'operate as if they were a restaurant' and serve food along with drinks.

The relaxation over Christmas does not apply to pubs

It was announced that up to three households can mix during the festive period between December 23 and 27 as the government announced a five-day loosening of coronavirus restrictions.

But this only applies to meeting in homes rather than pubs which is a big point of contention for The British Beer and Pub Association.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the trade association representing brewers and pubs, said: “Pubs are a controlled, safe and regulated environment to socialise in – following all government guidelines and working with NHS Track and Trace. They are part of the solution for a safe and enjoyable Christmas, not the problem.”

Don't forget Warrington's breweries

It's worth remembering that breweries are struggling too because of the drop in demand for beer in pubs in line with the restrictions.

Coach House in Howley, 4Ts in Latchford and Twisted Wheel in Europa Boulevard all have Christmas offers. So if you can't go to the pub why not bring the pub to you and support Warrington's independent beer producers at the same time?