Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme, launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to boost the hospitality industry in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, comes to a close on Monday amid calls for it to be extended.
The Chancellor thanked diners who took advantage of the initiative as he urged customers to "maintain the momentum to help continue our economic recovery.”
The deal, dubbed “Rishi’s dishes”, gives a discount of 50% up to £10 per head for people who eat at participating restaurants on certain days of the week.
The Chancellor said that more than 64 million meals had been claimed for so far since the initiative was launched at the beginning of August.
Mr Sunak said: “As the Eat Out to Help Out scheme draws to a close, I want to say thank you to the diners who have fallen back in love with their local, to the managers who have spent weeks ensuring their restaurants were safe and to the chefs, waiters and waitresses across the country who have worked tirelessly, sometimes with more customers than they’ve ever had before – all helping to protect 1.8 million jobs in the hospitality sector.
“The scheme reminded us why we as a nation love dining out and I urge diners to maintain the momentum to help continue our economic recovery.”
A number of chains and establishments have said they will continue the practice into September despite Government financial support being withdrawn.
Jemima Ferguson, marketing director at itsu, said: “The scheme has been hugely successful for us at itsu.
“It’s helped to drive over 50% more transactions during the Eat Out to Help Out period each week, without negatively impacting our trade during the rest of the week.
“We believe ripple effects from the positive impact of this scheme will be felt for many months to come.”
Meg Ellis, of Honest Burgers, said: “We’ve been really encouraged by the shift in energy in our sector as a result of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
“We’ve been able to bring more people back into work as a result of the scheme, which they have really enjoyed, and for some of our friends operating independently in the sector this has been the opportunity to confidently re-open for the first time.
“Seeing the vitality coming back into their restaurants has been a joy to witness.”