The hospitality sector is one of the UK’s most important industries, employing nearly 3 million people. During furlough, around 1.4 million hospitality workers were placed on leave. Although some venues were able to offer a takeaway service, nearly 80% businesses decided to close.

OpenTable figures show that restaurant bookings are still down by about 25% to 50% compared to pre-lockdown. Naturally this has had a major effect on employment and business revenue. The government hopes that the ‘eat out to help out' scheme will attract diners and boost confidence. Running alongside this is a substantial cut in VAT for hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses.

How does the scheme work?

The promotion gives people up to 50% off food and soft drinks when eating out at a restaurant. The maximum discount is capped at £10 and only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The scheme is currently running from the 3rd to the 31st of August.

You do not need to clip any coupons or find a code. Everything will appear on the menu at full price, but the restaurant will apply any discounts automatically and then claim it back from the government.

What can I eat?

The discount scheme does not apply to takeaways, and is only available for food and drink that you consume at the restaurant. There’s no minimum spend and you don’t have to order any food to be eligible, so you should be able to get a discounted coffee or smoothie in the weekday.

You are allowed to use the discount as many times as you want and you should be able to use the discount in conjunction with any other promotions or discounts that are running.

Who’s taking part?

Over 72,000 businesses have signed up to the promotion including restaurants, cafes and pubs. There are a wide range of restaurants taking part from big chains to independent restaurants. Visit the government's site for a list of participating restaurants taking part.

Why is the scheme being criticised?

A number of fast food restaurants have signed up to the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme which has attracted disapproval from anti-obesity campaigners, with The National Obesity Forum declaring that there is now a “green light to promote junk food”.

There is a lot of evidence indicating that people with underlying health conditions are at a greater risk from coronavirus. Some studies show that there is a clear link between COVID-19 complications and obesity, and some believe this looks like mixed messaging.

Whatever your thoughts on discounted hamburgers and fried chicken, the scheme ends in three weeks, so get booking if you want to take advantage.

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