Queues at Arbuckles restaurant in Ely as government's half price meals offer begins

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson

At lunchtime on Monday, the government's 'eat out to help out' scheme got underway.

The initiative is aimed at getting the economy moving again by enticing people to eat at pubs and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic by offering money off. Half-price food will be on offer at many eateries in the region, including Arbuckles in Ely, where there was a queue this lunchtime.

The restaurant re-opened a month ago and numbers have been growing steadily.

But bosses believe cheap dining throughout August will really help them make up ground lost during lockdown.At the Orangery restaurant in Northamptonshire's Delapre Abbey, manager Christine said she'd like to see the offer extended and expanded - currently, it's only available to diners on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Christine said: "I would like to see it extended beyond one month, in all honesty. I said, the bookings have been overwhelming and with it only being three days a week, there's a lot of people that can't make it on a Monday to Wednesday, so they would prefer it if it was going on at least five days a week. But, if it's only going to be the three days a week, then a couple more days would be great."As well as generating wealth, the scheme is hoping to offer a way for businesses to bring staff off the furlough scheme and back to work.

The Government admits it has to balance encouraging us to go out and spend money with maintaining social distancing and keeping people safe.

And this is, after all, taxpayers money which will have to be repaid one day.