Greater Manchester's top cop insists his officers will not be policing what should be considered a 'substantial' meal after Greater Manchester moved into Tier 3.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins says while police will be joining council licensing officers on visits to premises to check they are following the rules, they should not be entering a 'debate' over the rules.

The decision as to what constitutes a 'substantial' meal rests with the local authority, Mr Hopkins told the M.E.N.

It comes after a row this weekend over a bar in the Northern Quarter serving slices of pizza in a bid to stay open.

Under the government's Tier 3 lockdown rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus, alcohol may only be served alongside a 'substantial meal', which it defines as 'like a main lunchtime or evening meal' or a main course.

Staff at Common bar on Edge Street say police visited on Friday afternoon and told them their slices 'don't fit the substantial food brief', but claimed they 'couldn't tell [them] what substantial food was'.

The bar describes their slices from a 22-inch pizza as 'f*****g massive'.

One of the slices of pizza at the centre of the row

Common boss Jonny Heyes told the Manchester Evening News : "It's just a bit of a joke.

"I don't want to say anything bad about the officers because they had obviously been sent round to check everyone was serving food and adhering to the guidelines.

"But they don't have any information about what actually constitutes a substantial meal.

"They're just winging it."

Manchester council licensing staff and GMP licensing officers on joint patrol in August

After the story was reported by other news outlets including The Sunday Times, the bar revealed on Sunday slices were back on the menu.

"The head of Greater Manchester Police Licensing got on the blower to let us know that Slice Gate has been revisited and our Nell’s Pizza slices (cut from 22 inch pizzas) are now officially deemed substantial," Common tweeted.

Greater Manchester Police said in a comment: "We are currently still awaiting clearer guidance to be given around what constitutes a substantial meal in line with the new restrictions.

"Given we have already entered tier 3 restrictions, it is our duty to ensure that the rules are being followed and therefore officers must assess situations on a case by case basis.

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"GMP remain consistent with the approach we have taken throughout this pandemic, to engage with businesses in order to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 legislation.

"After further consideration we are now satisfied that until further guidance is given we believe their service is compliant with the rules."

Earlier this week the Chief Constable appeared to have made his position clear in an interview with the M.E.N.

When asked if he ever imagined he'd be policing what does, or does not, constitute a substantial meal, Mr Hopkins laughed and said: "We won't."

He clarified that while GMP will be carrying out around 500 licensing visits to premises across the region, these are 'local authority led' and police are only there to 'offer support'.

It is understood GMP's position is that the visit to Common was part of this programme of licensing visits and the interpretation of the rules was made by their council colleagues.

Chief Constable Hopkins said he does not want officers involved in a 'debate' about substantial meal rules

"My officers will be told they are not to get involved in debates about what constitutes a substantial meal," Mr Hopkins told the M.E.N.

"We have plenty of other things to focus on."

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police said they have handed out 52 fines for breaches of coronavirus legislation in less than 48 hours after the region moved into Tier 3.

This includes a £10,000 fine to the organiser of a party at a flat in the city centre on Friday night.

Police said they arrived at the address on Simpson Street in Angel Meadows to find at least 50 people in attendance at the event which had bouncers, a Dj and a buffet.

Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "This party was a blatant disregard of the rules and for public health. It is totally unacceptable in the current crisis the whole world is facing and is not what we want our officers to be spending their time doing.

"We had no alternative but to issue the maximum penalty for breaching the legislation on large gatherings and I hope this serves as a reminder to those considering to flout the rules - we will take action.

"The new tier restrictions recently put in place will no doubt have a huge effect on the people of Greater Manchester's lives - but the restrictions are there to save lives.

"While the vast majority of people in Greater Manchester continue to abide by the Government legislation, there are some who continue to flout the law and put lives at risk.

"This is a challenging time for us all and we have to ensure we're working together to reduce the risk posed by the spread of Covid-19."