The UK Government is begging Britons to open their wallets, so Boris Johnson is doing the same.
His Government has started paying 50 per cent of diners’ restaurant bills to encourage them to spend, ahead of a feared second wave of COVID-19.
“I think it’s a great idea,” diner Lewis Stanford told the ABC as he ate lunch in south London.
“These businesses need an injection to get everyone out and about.”
A fellow diner, Poppy Green, said she never expected the Prime Minister would be paying half her restaurant bill.
The scheme is available at more than 76,000 restaurants in the UK and diners don’t need to do anything to get their discount.
Instead, the restaurant charges half-price and the Government has promised to pay the balance within days.
To ease diners’ nerves, cafes and restaurants are improvising to maximise open-air dining while the weather is still warm.
In Battersea, in south London, restaurants have been allowed to take over a local road, providing thousands of outdoor seats where buses and cars would normally drive.
Zaid Sharif, who co-owns Café Tamra, said the extra space and the government-funded discounts were giving diners a newfound confidence.
“I think it will encourage people to actually go out and eat more,” he said.
“After all, we’re social, human beings.
“People need to go out and interact and have fun a little bit, despite the current conditions.”
So, what’s the catch?
There are a few.
The scheme will run for at least a month but only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when dining is traditionally less popular.
The savings are capped at 10 pounds (about $18) per person, per meal but there are no limits on the number of times the offer can be used.
And alcohol isn’t included.
However, the scheme is being used at major fast food chains, threatening to undermine Mr Johnson’s recently declared war on obesity.
Liberal Democrats’ health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said the Government should have been more discerning with the scheme and what restaurants it covered.
“Obesity is already an immense challenge for people and the NHS [National Health Service], but the latest research suggests it also contributes to the deadliness of coronavirus,” she said.
UK worried about second wave
The UK is now facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, prompting fears of a second wave and another nationwide lockdown.
On Monday, 938 new cases were recorded, the biggest one-day rise in more than a month.
There also seems to be confusion in areas that have recently been placed in a local lockdown, including parts of northern England like Greater Manchester, Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
New rules mean two different households cannot meet at a home or garden but can venture out to a restaurant or pub for an al-fresco meal.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the government scheme shouldn’t happen without more funding for low-paid workers taking time off for enforced self-isolation.
“National lockdown was eased too soon, and encouraging people back to the pub on Super Saturday was a big mistake, as is the eat-out-to-help-out scheme,” he wrote in the Sunday Mirror.
“We shouldn’t spend taxpayers money on subsidising meals out but not support the low-paid to take time off work to protect their health.”