Social clubs and members only clubs that were hoping to use a loophole in Tier 3 restrictions so they could remain open without serving food have been told they will now need to CLOSE.

Following the news that Mill Hill Working Men's Club in Blackburn would be staying open for members only due to an exemption clause in the restrictions, the government has now clarified their stance on the issue and closed the loophole.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “For areas in Tier 3, any pub, bar or other business, including social or members clubs, cannot sell alcohol for consumption on the premises unless it is served alongside a substantial meal.

“We are asking everybody to play their part to reduce potential periods of exposure in an indoor environment.”

This Is Lancashire:

All pubs and bars in areas where the highest coronavirus alert level is in place have to remain closed unless they serve substantial meals.

But some social clubs were continuing to serve alcohol without food after their local councils told them this was allowed.

Councils on the Wirral, Preston and Fylde had all advised social clubs that the exemption existed because they held club premises certificates and not premises licences.

The Preston City Council website stated: "Premises that hold a ‘Club Premises Certificate’ do not sell alcohol, instead they supply alcohol to their members.

"The requirement to close does not apply to these premises, nor do they need to provide a substantial meal to club members or their guests when they are drinking, under the Tier 3 restrictions.

"Club premises should only supply alcohol to members or guests of members. Clubs must not admit the general public."

However, the government has since clarified that these type of establishments cannot sell alcohol on the premises unless they do in fact serve substantial meals.

On Wednesday, Licensing officer for East Lancashire, Sgt Gary Hennighan, said his understanding of the situation was that the exemptions stood but it was very unfair and would need further discussion.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “To me it seems completely unfair. Ultimately they are allowing a bar that doesn’t serve food to open when others are struggling.

“It’s likely our local authorities are trying to clarify this with the government as what’s happening is not right."