The 'business lunch' lockdown loophole explained - and what the government is saying about it

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 2:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 2:07 pm

A loophole in Tier 2 and Tier 3 lockdown measures allows people from different households to meet indoors for "work purposes", it has been revealed.

Currently, people in areas under Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions are not permitted to meet indoors with anyone from another household, either in private home or inside a pub or restaurant.

However, it has emerged that one of the exceptions to this rule that meetings indoors which are "reasonably necessary for work purposes."

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This exemption means working lunches are technically a way of getting around the rules - allowing people to meet up over lunch in a pub, for instance.

Downing Street, however, has asked people not to take advantage of the loophole, saying the rule had been designed for freelancers or anyone without another place to meet. The government did admit that restricting this loophole to freelancers alone would be guidance, rather than written in law.

'Minimise face to face meetings where possible'

Boris Johnson's official spokesman said, "In relation to Tiers 2 and 3 you must not meet socially in any indoor setting with people unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

“And that includes private homes but it does also include indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants.

“I think the issue here is that there is a specific exemption which says people from different households can gather in indoor settings that are open for work purposes.

“But the reason that is there is a reflection of the fact that there are some people, such as the self-employed and freelancers, who may not have a workplace to conduct business meetings that need to take place face-to-face.

“So we would encourage everyone to use alternative work meetings where possible, like Covid-secure workplaces where you have one, or to hold meetings virtually.

“The exemption you describe is there really for that specific group of people, such as a freelancer that doesn’t have anywhere else they can conduct a business meeting.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has said that anyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

They are also encouraging employers to "minimise face to face meetings and use video conferencing software wherever possible”, the Telegraph reported.