The Boris government announced as part of a Summer Statement to help revive the flagging economy, the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme which was a hit with everyone at large.The official scheme saw more than 85,000 eateries sign up, with the government footing the bill for the 50% discount in each case. There was no minimum spend required to get the discount and no limit on the number of times you could use it each day.
More than 51 million meals were claimed for in England by 27 August, more than two million in both Wales and Northern Ireland and more than six million in Scotland. During the scheme’s final full week, the number of seated diners was up 63% compared to the same period in 2019, and up 95% on Eat Out To Help Out days. Saturday and Sunday of that week were up by 9.4% and 32.1% respectively, according to OpenTable. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said the scheme had been a “great success” for the industry.
However, even though the government is urging the public to go out and spend money, it remains the case that having fewer social contacts will make you less likely to catch COVID-19, which is still present in the UK. Pubs and restaurants can only open if they are deemed ‘COVID-19-secure’, but some have already been forced to close after patrons have become infected. The government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is officially over, but some restaurants will continue providing half-price meals into September by covering the shortfall themselves.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Johnson said, “we must act” to avoid another lockdown as virus cases rise in England. He set out a new “rule of six”, restricting gatherings to a maximum of six people, enforced by police. Mr Johnson also outlined a “moonshot” plan to control the virus with mass testing, possibly by next spring. It comes as the UK reported another 2,659 coronavirus cases, the fourth day running of over 2,000 reported cases in the past week. “I want to be absolutely clear, these measures are not another national lockdown. The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown,” Mr Johnson said in the first Downing Street coronavirus briefing since July on the evening of 9th September. The address also mentioned how the government has made compulsory the wearing of masks on all public transport and when visiting shopping malls. While maintaining the norms of social distancing and recruiting ‘Covid Marshalls’, the British government is planning its best to stop the implementation of a second national lockdown and aims to loosen rules by Christmas.