Over 64 million discounted meals have been claimed across the UK in the first three weeks of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Around 84,000 eateries have now signed up to take part, including high-street chains as well as thousands of small independent businesses, according to new data released on Tuesday.
Some 87,000 claims have been made by participating restaurants so far under the scheme, which ends on 31 August.
“Today’s figures continue to show that Brits are backing hospitality — with more than 64 million meals discounted so far, that’s equivalent to nearly every person in the country dining out to protect jobs,” chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme gives diners a 50% discount at participating restaurants and pubs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August, to a maximum of £10 per head.
The first few weeks of the dining scheme has seen the number of people eating in restaurants from Monday to Wednesday increase dramatically, according to data from OpenTable.
“This scheme has reminded us how much we love to dine out, and in doing so, how this is helping to protect the jobs of nearly two million people who work in hospitality,” Sunak said.
The scheme was created to encourage people to eat out to aid the ailing hospitality industry, which has been severely affected by coronavirus restrictions.
Hospitality has been one of the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Around 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, with 1.4 million people in accommodation and food services furloughed, according to the Treasury, the highest of any sector.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes, and other establishments that serve food can take part in the programme. The scheme is part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs and aims to protect 1.8 million jobs in the hospitality sector.
Additional reporting by Kalila Sangster