06:49 GMT13 August 2020
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    Qualifying businesses have begun signing up for the major government scheme in a bid to revitalise the UK economy impacted by lockdown measures from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which are being eased and reviewed following a review from Downing Street.

    The UK government has invited businesses in the hospitality industry to join a new government scheme aimed at attracting customers with massive food discounts, it was announced on Monday.

    The new government 'Eat Out to Help Out' initiative will provide discounts of up to 50 percent off, or £10 a person, a press release from HM Revenue & Customs said on Monday.

    But alcoholic drinks are excluded from the scheme, according to the announcement.

    Qualifying businesses must register for the scheme, which will instantly apply the discount at restaurants, bars, cafes and others in August. Companies will receive claims via an online services backed by HMRC.

    Funds will be distributed in five working days on a weekly basis and used from Monday to Wednesday, and from 3 to 31 August this year, the UK government said.

    The scheme would allow businesses to welcome back customers via the "simple process", Chancellor of the Exchequers Rishi Sunak said.

    "The hospitality industry is among the sectors worst affected by COVID-19. The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme will deliver support to more than 100,000 businesses, including restaurants, cafes and bars serving food and drink, helping to protect 1.8 million jobs across the UK," HMRC chief executive and first permanent secretary Jim Harra said in a statement.

    Businesses had also made "great efforts" to reopen their sit-in services to meet social distancing guidelines to restore confidence in dining, he added.

    The news follows a government ease of social distancing restrictions, with pubs, restaurants and hotels reopening on 4 July and gyms and indoor pools set to reopen on 25 July.

    Chancellor Sunak also gave a speech last week on new measures aimed at boosting the UK economy and jobs for young people aged 16 to 24 amid rising unemployment figures due to COVID-19.

    The government's Kickstart Scheme would fund £2bn to provide a minimum of 25 hours work per week at the National Minimum Wage of £8.72 after 1 April, up from £8.21, with young workers earning roughly £6,500.

    UK prime minister Boris Johnson also said in a speech last week he would like to see more UK residents shopping and returning to work while practising safety measures. His comments come after the government relaxed lockdown measures on cinemas, hairdressers and others, as well as reduced social distancing from two to one metres.


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