00:10 GMT15 August 2020
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    The hospitality industry suffered significantly throughout lockdown with 80 percent of businesses closing in April and 1.4 million employees furloughed. The government’s new “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme aims to encourage diners to return to eating in restaurants.

    The government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme starts on Monday throughout the UK as part of an initiative to get the hospitality industry back on its feet.

    The scheme offers diners money off their bill on certain days throughout August to encourage customers to return to cafes, pubs and restaurants.

    How Does the Scheme Work?

    From 3 to 31 August customers can get a discount of 50 percent off food and soft drinks at participating restaurants or food establishments every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The deal is capped at £10 per person and is taking place in all parts of the UK that are not in local lockdown.

    Food and drink will appear on the menu at full price, but the restaurant will deduct the discount from the bill and claim it back from the government.

    Which Food and Drink Establishments are Taking Part?

    Over 53,000 businesses have signed up for the scheme, including restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs that serve food, canteens, food halls with a seating area and members clubs. 

    Customers can find their nearest participating food outlets on the government’s website, which has a search tool which allows people to search for participating restaurants within a five-mile radius.

    What is Not Included?

    The discount does not apply to alcoholic drinks, or the service charge on the meal, or food for a private function or event and meals must be consumed on the premises. 

    It also doesn’t apply to takeaways, mobile food vans or bed and breakfasts. 

    Why Has the Scheme Been Introduced?

    Hospitality is the third largest UK employer and the industry has suffered significantly due to the pandemic. 

    In April, 80 percent of businesses closed due to lockdown measures and 1.4 million employees were placed on furlough

    The government hopes that the scheme will encourage customers to return to eating out and will help businesses retain customers during their quieter days.

    Scheme's Criticism

    The scheme has been criticised as experts say it undermines the government’s new Obesity Strategy which was launched at the same time.

    That campaign encourages adults to introduce changes that will help them work towards a healthier weight, with a suite of free tools and apps supporting people to eat better, drink less alcohol and get active. 

    The “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme is also under fire because it offers diners 50 percent off food from a number of participating fast food restaurants.

    Professor Amelia Lake, a public health expert says the government “should be working with businesses to help shape their menus to become healthier as part of a holistic approach to tackling obesity.”

    “Offering subsidies on food which is particularly associated with being less healthy completely contradicts the other message around reducing obesity” she said. 

    budget, local restaurants, hospitality
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