CHRISTMAS is edging closer and it is during the festive period that we tend to want to go for a pint or tipple with friends.

But Boris Johnson's revised three-tier system has placed even more restrictions on pubs and those who go to them.

This is everything you need to know about visiting the pub under Cheshire's new tougher Tier 2 rules.

Households cannot mix INSIDE pubs

From today, Wednesday, customers 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.

Being outdoors in December might sound a bit mad but many pubs have introduced heated, illuminated areas.

'Substantial meals'

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

'Wet-led' pubs 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 Cheshire'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.

Many breweries, including Tatton and Mobberley, have their own online shops.

So if you can't go to the pub why not bring the pub to you and support Cheshire's independent beer producers at the same time?