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Eat Out to Help Out scheme is set to smash 80million-meal barrier tonight at £400m cost to taxpayer - healthyfrog

Eat Out to Help Out scheme is set to smash 80million-meal barrier tonight at £400m cost to taxpayer

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is set to smash through the 80 million-meal barrier tonight at a £400 million cost to the taxpayer on the last night of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s scheme.

Diners have endured three hour queues for their final 50% discounts of up to £10 per head which have been offered at restaurants across the country since the beginning of August.

The Treasury estimates that the average claim is close to £5, meaning that the 80 million expected to have participated in ‘Rishi’s Dish’s’ will have cost the taxpayer £400 million. 

Customers at Josie’s cafe in Winchester were told it would take three hours to get a table if they joined a virtual queuing system via a mobile app while those heading to Nando’s in Hammersmith, London, claimed they faced a two-hour wait.

One of the lucky few to get a seat was accountant Brandon Reis, 25, who told MailOnline: ‘The opportunity to make savings like this may never come again, so I’ve been eating out two to three times a week.’  

Scroll down for video.  

LONDON: Diners in central London’s China Town on Monday night making the most of the last ever Eat Out to Help Out – the Government’s scheme to promote business amid the pandemic estimated to have cost the taxpayer £400 million

WINDSOR: Diners in busy Windsor, Berkshire, on Monday afternoon as thousands sought to make the most of the Chancellor's generous meal scheme

WINDSOR: Diners in busy Windsor, Berkshire, on Monday afternoon as thousands sought to make the most of the Chancellor’s generous meal scheme

BRIGHTON: A large queue forms outside Wagamamas in the city centre. The chain was where Rishi Sunak first launched the deal

BRIGHTON: A large queue forms outside Wagamamas in the city centre. The chain was where Rishi Sunak first launched the deal 

LEEDS: McDonald's has, unsurprisingly, done well out of the offer, with diners seen queuing outside this branch today for table service

LEEDS: McDonald’s has, unsurprisingly, done well out of the offer, with diners seen queuing outside this branch today for table service  

SOUTHAMPTON: Shangai Bay, a Chinese restaurant, was doing a roaring trade thanks to a stream of bargain hunters today

SOUTHAMPTON: Shangai Bay, a Chinese restaurant, was doing a roaring trade thanks to a stream of bargain hunters today 

Twitter user Edmund O'Leary enjoyed a bumper All English Breakfast at the Hay Wain in Epson, which he thanked for offering 'great service'

Twitter user Edmund O’Leary enjoyed a bumper All English Breakfast at the Hay Wain in Epson, which he thanked for offering ‘great service’ 

Alex Sparkes with his friends Max Tracey and Adam Telling enjoying £4 burgers reduced from £8 at Pyrford golf club in Woking. Mr Sparkes said: 'We're usually more into our fish suppers - particularly on a big sports away day - but decided to mix it up this time'

Alex Sparkes with his friends Max Tracey and Adam Telling enjoying £4 burgers reduced from £8 at Pyrford golf club in Woking. Mr Sparkes said: ‘We’re usually more into our fish suppers – particularly on a big sports away day – but decided to mix it up this time’

Twitter user Vicky Osgood enjoyed a nine-item breakfast at Gloucester Services, including bubble and squeak and haggis, plus a coffee for £6.20. She tweeted: 'Probably our last #EatOutToHelpOut meal, but we've finished on a cracker'

Ms Osgood's recepeit

Twitter user Vicky Osgood enjoyed a nine-item breakfast at Gloucester Services, including bubble and squeak and haggis, plus a coffee for £6.20. She tweeted: ‘Probably our last #EatOutToHelpOut meal, but we’ve finished on a cracker’

Diners joked it was 'food binge day' and they would try to 'eat as much as possible' to make the most of the programme

Diners joked it was ‘food binge day’ and they would try to ‘eat as much as possible’ to make the most of the programme

There were also long queues outside restaurants at the Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London.  

Sylvia Betterman had tried to get into Wahaca with her three children Jacob, 18, Stella, 13 and Lydia, 14, but they were turned away and told there were five people ahead of them.  

Jacob said: ‘I thought because there’s so many restaurants in Westfield we wouldn’t have to wait. But we went to Wagamamas and it looked like a 25 minute wait, and Ping Pong was even more, about 40 minutes.’

A last roll of the dice? Chains continuing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme with their own money 

Harvester

Toby Carvery

Franco Manca 

Bill’s

Three Cheers Pub Company

Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery

Q Hotels Group

Signature Pub Group

True North Brew Co

Cityglen pubs

The Coconut Tree

56 North – Edinburgh

Smiths Restaurant, Uddingston

Peru Perdu, Manchester

Craft Dining Room, Birmingham

The Wilderness, Birmingham

SIX, Cambridge

Harleys Smokehouse in Staffordshire 

Meanwhile, carpenter Simon Davies, 51, hardly had to queue at all when he popped into his local Wetherspoons in nearby Shepherds Bush, for a traditional breakfast and Bud Light for £3.85. 

‘You can’t beat a breakfast and beer,’ he said. ‘It’s less than you’d pay for a sandwich, and the food’s great.’ 

The Chancellor said more than 64million meals had been claimed since the initiative was launched at the beginning of August. 

The scheme has seen the government pay 50% of the bill up to £10 per head at participating restaurants from Monday to Wednesday in a bid to boost the hospitality industry and keep jobs.  

Reports that it could be extended to help hard-pressed city centres were today dismissed by a senior Treasury source, who told MailOnline: ‘We love it as much as everyone else but Rishi is very clear about hard stops.’ 

Pub operator JD Wetherspoon has said it will fund discounts on meals from Monday to Wednesday until at least November 11, describing the scheme as a ‘great boost’ to the hospitality industry. 

Eat out to Help Out was part of an attempt to boost the hospitality industry in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and help hard-pressed town centres.

Every table was full today at Josie’s, which is one of the most popular cafés in Winchester. 

Jackie Reis had taken her children Jessica, 19, a waitress, and accountant Brendon, 25, out for brunch with their partners.

‘I’ve just got back from Portugal and I’ve never felt safer,’ she said. ‘I felt safe over there and I feel safe here. I’ve been avoiding big gatherings of people, but I’m just looking forward to things going back to normal.’

Her son, Brendon, agreed. ‘I’ve been going out a lot more since Eat Out To Help Out was introduced,’ he said. ‘I’ve ending up spending way more than I would otherwise. It’s like when a shop has a sale and you buy loads of things you never knew you needed.

‘The opportunity to make savings like this may never come again, so I’ve been eating out two to three times a week. The scheme has definitely worked.’

His partner, 24-year-old Zoe Martin, a primary school teacher, agreed. ‘The fear is all behind us now,’ she said. ‘We’re all just looking forward to a bit of normality when school starts again next week.’

Waitress Jessica Reis, who was on her day off with her family, said that the opportunity to save had changed her habits. ‘Before Covid, I used to go out a couple of times a month. Now it’s a weekly occurrence,’ she said. 

Her partner, Rob King, 19, who works in a garage in Eastleigh, added that the discount had ‘given everyone the confidence we need to get the economy moving’.

‘Everyone wants to make the most of it,’ he said. ‘There was a slight anxiety at first, after emerging from lockdown, but we soon shrugged that off.

London: Diners in Soho are served to tables on the street as they take part in the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out discount

London: Diners in Soho are served to tables on the street as they take part in the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out discount 

Soho in London has relaxed planning laws to allow restaurants to put out tables and chairs on closed-down roads (pictured today)

Soho in London has relaxed planning laws to allow restaurants to put out tables and chairs on closed-down roads (pictured today) 

‘With the safety measures in place everywhere, we don’t feel in any danger and things are pretty much back to normal. But that could all change if there was a sudden increase in cases.’

But the Government’s discount scheme had not motivated everyone. Hannah Busby, 25, and her sister Emily, 22, were standing outside the café trying to decide whether it was worth waiting three hours for a table.

‘We were expecting it to be busy, but not like this,’ Hannah said. ‘To be honest, we’ve only come out because it’s a Bank Holiday. Saving ten quid is neither here nor there.’

Emily added: ‘The savings haven’t made a difference throughout. We didn’t normally go out from Monday to Wednesday, and we don’t now either. It’s only due to the Bank Holiday that we’re here.’

Their friend, bricklayer Craig Caisley, 24, agreed. ‘People are motivated to get out into town after the lockdown anyway,’ he said. ‘It’s not really about the money.’ 

 In Hammersmith, west London, Liezle Greyling, 49, was at a Wetherspoons enjoying the discount with her daughters Lilia, 12, and Mea, 9.

‘Three breakfasts and juices cost us eight pounds,’ she said. ‘It’s amazing. We’ve been using the scheme a lot, and have been to places such as Tortilla and Nando’s.’ 

There were also long queues outside restaurants at the nearby Westfield shopping centre, where mother Pinz Sanie, 43, said she had used the discount on each of the 13 days it has been active for.   

A socially-distanced queue outside 202, a high-end restaurant specialising in brunch dishes in Notting Hill, west London

A socially-distanced queue outside 202, a high-end restaurant specialising in brunch dishes in Notting Hill, west London

Diners in Soho enjoying discounted lunches on the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme - dubbed 'Rishi's Dishes'

Diners in Soho enjoying discounted lunches on the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – dubbed ‘Rishi’s Dishes’ 

Soho's China Town was packed with hungry diners taking advantage of the discount, which is meant to boost trade in hard-pressed city centres

Soho’s China Town was packed with hungry diners taking advantage of the discount, which is meant to boost trade in hard-pressed city centres 

A queue forming outside a cafe in Leeds city centre, where parts of the road have been separated off to provide more room for social distancing

A queue forming outside a cafe in Leeds city centre, where parts of the road have been separated off to provide more room for social distancing 

A shopping centre in Leeds where there was a queue of people queuing for lunch at Nandos this afternoon

A shopping centre in Leeds where there was a queue of people queuing for lunch at Nandos this afternoon  

A queue for Wagamamas inside the shopping centre in Leeds. The government today ruled out extending the discount

A queue for Wagamamas inside the shopping centre in Leeds. The government today ruled out extending the discount 

People queue up outside Wagamama in Windsor on Monday. Diners are able to claim 50% on meals up to £10 per head

People queue up outside Wagamama in Windsor on Monday. Diners are able to claim 50% on meals up to £10 per head 

Some stores are vowing to continue the discount out of their pockets to try and sustain demand. Pictured is  McDonald's in Leeds

Some stores are vowing to continue the discount out of their pockets to try and sustain demand. Pictured is  McDonald’s in Leeds 

Pinz Sanie, 43, (middle) went to Wagamama's in Westfield today with her partner and children Simren, 9, Rohan, 7. She said: ¿We¿ve done it every day at loads of different places like Nando¿s... We¿ve been queuing for 15 minutes to get in as soon as it opens at 12'

Pinz Sanie, 43, (middle) went to Wagamama’s in Westfield today with her partner and children Simren, 9, Rohan, 7. She said: ‘We’ve done it every day at loads of different places like Nando’s… We’ve been queuing for 15 minutes to get in as soon as it opens at 12’

Sylvia Betterman had tried to get into Wahaca with her three children Jacob, 18, Stella, 13 and Lydia, 14, but they were turned away and told there were five people ahead of them

Sylvia Betterman had tried to get into Wahaca with her three children Jacob, 18, Stella, 13 and Lydia, 14, but they were turned away and told there were five people ahead of them

Liezle Greyling, 49, was at a Wetherspoons in Shepherds Bush, West London, with her daughters Lilia, 12, and Mea, 9. 'Three breakfasts and juices cost us eight pounds,' she told MailOnline. 'It's amazing. We've been using the scheme a lot, and have been to places such as Tortilla and Nando's'

Liezle Greyling, 49, was at a Wetherspoons in Shepherds Bush, West London, with her daughters Lilia, 12, and Mea, 9. ‘Three breakfasts and juices cost us eight pounds,’ she told MailOnline. ‘It’s amazing. We’ve been using the scheme a lot, and have been to places such as Tortilla and Nando’s’

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is ending today as its creator Rishi Sunak thanks diners for taking part – but urged them to keep going to restaurants 

Solicitor Sarah Campbell, 29, was standing next to them in the queue while she waited for a friend. ‘The weather has also played a factor,’ she said.

‘I live in a flat, so when it was sunny I went out to beer gardens a lot, as I don’t work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

‘The discount was nice but it wasn’t a dealbreaker. I think it did give a lot of people confidence, though. And heaven knows we need it at the moment.’ 

Wetherspoon’s plans to keep discounts after Eat Out scheme ends 

Pub operator JD Wetherspoon is launching its own reduced prices scheme after the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative.

The move will see prices on a range of meals and drinks reduced from Monday to Wednesday until November 11.

The cheaper prices will start on Tuesday, following the end of the Government’s drive to encourage people to eat out by subsidising meals during August.

Wetherspoon said prices on some of its meals and drinks will be cheaper than those available in takeaways.

Chairman Tim Martin said: ‘The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was extremely popular with our customers and a great boost to the hospitality industry.

‘We are keen to offer our customers a superb choice of food and drink at great value for money prices.

‘Our offer means that a classic beef burger in our pubs will be even better value than McDonald’s.’

Manee, 19, and Meena, 19, from Southall, queued for just under 10 minutes to get a table at Wagamamas in Westfield in White City, London. 

Manee said: ‘We would queue for about 20 minutes before we’d walk away.’

She was unsure if Wagamamas even did the Eat Out to Help Out, and said she never gets the chance to do it during the day because of her job in a charity shop. 

Asked what they were going to get, Manee, who works at another Wagamama branch in Heathrow Airport, said: ‘We usually get the sides, so we’ll get them today.’  

Piers Morgan also praised the scheme, tweeting: ‘The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has been a great success & helped so many restaurants/cafes/pubs get back on their feet. 

‘Once again, Rishi Sunak appears to be the only member of the Govt who knows what he’s doing in this crisis.’ 

Announcing the end of the scheme, 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.’

The idea of keeping the scheme going was said to be a matter of live discussion within the Treasury.

One minister told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The scheme has been a big success in general, but it’s all very well going to your local restaurant down the road for a cheap meal when those restaurants are already doing good business because of people working from home.

‘It is the destination restaurants in city centres that need the help, and that’s where resources should be concentrated.’

But a Treasury source has now ruled this out.  

Diners queuing outside a Bill's at the Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London, for the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme today

Diners queuing outside a Bill’s at the Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London, for the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme today 

On social media, diners joked it was 'food binge day' and they would try to 'eat as much as possible'. Pictured are the queues outside Westfield

On social media, diners joked it was ‘food binge day’ and they would try to ‘eat as much as possible’. Pictured are the queues outside Westfield 

Ryan Palmer said he was having 'breakfast on Rishi while we still can' as he shared this photo of a tasty meal at Indian restaurant Dishoom

Ryan Palmer said he was having ‘breakfast on Rishi while we still can’ as he shared this photo of a tasty meal at Indian restaurant Dishoom 

 

Diners celebrated their meal deals today as they made the most of the scheme before it ended

Diners celebrated their meal deals today as they made the most of the scheme before it ended

Diners celebrated their meal deals today as they made the most of the scheme before it ended, including Chris Goldsmith who visited McDonalds 

Piers Morgan praised the scheme as a 'great success' and claimed Mr Sunak was 'the only member of the government who knows what he's doing'

Piers Morgan praised the scheme as a ‘great success’ and claimed Mr Sunak was ‘the only member of the government who knows what he’s doing’ 

One Twitter user said they couldn't book a table 'for love nor money' due to the popularity of the government's discount

One Twitter user said they couldn’t book a table ‘for love nor money’ due to the popularity of the government’s discount 

‘Greedy chancer’ tried to blag a weeks’ worth of meals at a chippy – and then whinged on social media when staff refused 

By Rory Tingle for MailOnline 

A ‘greedy’ chancer tried to blag a weeks’ worth of meals at a chippy using the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – and then whinged on social media when staff refused.

The man was eating alone at Eglinton Diner and Fish Fry in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, when he ordered eight meals – one to eat, and seven to take away, in a bid to get them at half price.

He told workers it was ‘to keep him going for the next few days’.

Furious staff told him the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was not supposed to be used like that, but the ‘greedy’ customer took his complaint to social media posting a review to the business’s Facebook.

The man wrote: ‘Attitude totally pants and insulting, lost out on eight different meals, KFC loved your money, long time customer never be back.’

A post from Eglinton Diner and Fish Fry said: ‘I can only assume you were the person in the diner yesterday who was dining alone but asked to order eight suppers.

‘One to eat and the other seven to take away to keep you going for the next few days. Please read the rules on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme as this is certainly not the way it is intended to work.

‘It is people with your greed that puts schemes like this in jeopardy and we value our business too much to be bending rules for greedy customers. I hope you enjoyed your meal.’

Eglinton Diner shared the review from the ‘obviously upset customer’.

The business posted: ‘I think the attitude of the staff was utter disbelief. Trying to order eight meals for one person so he can get them half price. Unbelievable!’

A number of chains and establishments have said they will continue the practice into September despite Government financial support being withdrawn.

Wetherspoon’s said prices on a range of meals and drinks will be reduced from Monday to Wednesday until November 11.

The cheaper prices will start on Tuesday, following the end of the Government’s drive to encourage people to eat out by subsidising meals during August.

Wetherspoon said prices on some of its meals and drinks will be cheaper than those available in takeaways. 

Chairman Tim Martin said: ‘The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was extremely popular with our customers and a great boost to the hospitality industry.

‘We are keen to offer our customers a superb choice of food and drink at great value for money prices.

‘Our offer means that a classic beef burger in our pubs will be even better value than McDonald’s.’ 

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.’

The boss of the Greene King pub chain told the BBC that that city centre sites were still struggling, especially in London, despite some of its 3,100 sites seeing a significant boost in sales.  

Andy Lennox, who runs two Zim Braii restaurants in Bournemouth and also founded The Wonky Table network of around 500 hospitality firms, said: ‘Trade’s record-breaking at the moment.

‘It is a false bubble so we’re not getting too excited, but Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are up probably 100% [on last year]. The week’s up 50%. Thursday has pivoted – it’s the new Monday.’

Customers queuing outside Franco Manca in Southampton for the final day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme today

Customers queuing outside Franco Manca in Southampton for the final day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme today 

Diners taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out scheme in Windsor today as thousands across the country rushed to take advantage

Diners taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out scheme in Windsor today as thousands across the country rushed to take advantage 

Bills in Southampton was full of diners using the discount today, with outdoor tables making it easier to manage the crowds

Bills in Southampton was full of diners using the discount today, with outdoor tables making it easier to manage the crowds 

There was also a socially-distanced queue outside Bill's in Southampton as customers raced to take advantage of the programme before it ends

There was also a socially-distanced queue outside Bill’s in Southampton as customers raced to take advantage of the programme before it ends 

Diners at a Cafe Rouge in Windsor. Chancellor Rishi Sunak says the scheme has given a financial boost to restaurants and helped get people back into the habit of eating out

Diners at a Cafe Rouge in Windsor. Chancellor Rishi Sunak says the scheme has given a financial boost to restaurants and helped get people back into the habit of eating out 

Customers waiting outside the Ivy in Winchester to take their seats for the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme

Customers waiting outside the Ivy in Winchester to take their seats for the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme 

Diners enjoying sit-down meals outside a branch of Balans Soho Society at Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London

Diners enjoying sit-down meals outside a branch of Balans Soho Society at Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London 

A queue of hungry customers outside Wagamamas in Westfield, which is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe

A queue of hungry customers outside Wagamamas in Westfield, which is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe 

DOMINIC LAWSON: Now we’ve got the appetite back, we must all keep eating for Britain

Good luck getting into your favourite restaurant today, if you haven’t booked long in advance. 

This Bank Holiday Monday is the final day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, in which diners can claim 50 per cent of the cost of their meal (up to a maximum of £10 a head) from the Government. 

Or rather, from all of us, as taxpayers. 

But this is no time for cavilling. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ploy was regarded by Treasury civil servants as so abnormal that he compelled them to authorise it with a ‘ministerial direction’. 

David Williams, owner of the Baltic Market in Liverpool, said businesses 'underestimated' the effect Eat Out to Help Out would have

David Williams, owner of the Baltic Market in Liverpool, said businesses ‘underestimated’ the effect Eat Out to Help Out would have

This is the formal instrument required when a Permanent Secretary (the most senior civil servant in each department) believes a spending proposal is ‘improper or represents poor value for money’. 

But the sheer scale of its take-up — in the first three weeks, no fewer than 64million discounted meals were claimed in over 80,000 restaurants and pubs — has helped rescue our hospitality industry at a time of unprecedented commercial peril. 

Jolt 

Perhaps the civil servants believed the scheme would simply subsidise meals that would be sold anyway, or would just shift business to the early part of the week (the discount was available from Monday to Wednesday). 

But the extent of the surge in demand, even above levels in normal, pre-Covid times, suggests it has done much more than that. 

As David Williams, owner of the Baltic Market, which houses a dozen catering businesses in a converted 18th century brewery in Liverpool, observed earlier this month: ‘People, myself included, underestimated the effect it was going to have.

Chancellor is warned not to hammer middle classes on fuel, capital gains and pensions to pay off coronavirus bill 

Senior Tories last night urged Rishi Sunak to abandon plans for a £30billion tax grab over fears it could throttle an economic recovery.

The Chancellor is said to be considering a huge fiscal raid in this autumn’s Budget to plug the gaping hole in public finances after record spending on coronavirus.

Many of the proposals would hammer the middle classes and better-off.

Fuel duty, capital gains tax, corporation tax, the pension triple lock and pension tax relief are all said to be in the firing line

The proposals are reported to have been drawn up by Treasury officials as ‘options’ for ministers in the Budget, which is pencilled in for November.

No decisions have yet been taken by ministers about how to deal with a deficit expected to top £300billion this year.

But one Cabinet minister said the Chancellor would face a revolt if he pressed ahead with the tax grab.

‘Tax rises of this sort would be the worst possible economic policy to adopt right now,’ the minister said. 

‘It would guarantee a much deeper recession. Large parts of the economy are still fragile – we need to nurture it, not throttle it.’

‘Most restaurants in Liverpool now, you can’t even get a table for the whole of August, Monday to Wednesday.’ 

The scheme sent a jolt of electricity through a population which was reluctant to eat out at all, not necessarily through fear of infection but just inertia or a habit acquired during lockdown. 

But there is a second, much less popular Government policy which must also take some credit for the salvation (temporary or not) of countless small businesses associated with domestic tourism. 

This is the sudden imposition of quarantine restrictions on Britons returning from certain other countries. 

First it was Spain, then France, then Croatia. 

Now even ultra-hygienic Switzerland has been removed from the list of nations with a quarantine-free ‘travel corridor’ to the UK. 

In all these cases, the requirement that returning travellers should self-isolate for a fortnight has been rushed through with little warning, based on reported increases in Covid infections in the countries concerned. 

That is the official line, and is justified publicly as a means of limiting further outbreaks of the virus in the UK. 

It is therefore odd that, unlike in other countries, the quarantining process here seems to be so ineffectually invigilated. 

As the journalist Jenni Russell observed: ‘I have come through the e-gates at Heathrow twice this summer and watched fellow passengers passing through en masse without either filling in their forms or being stopped. 

‘There’s no reinforcement of the quarantine message on arrival, no leaflets, no sense that this really matters.’ 

Hotspots

It is almost as if the real reason for the apparently capricious imposition of these requirements was to deter people from taking their holidays overseas and instead spend their money here — as an additional inducement to Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. 

If so, it has worked — and not just in such obvious hotspots as Cornwall, where one in three private sector jobs are connected to tourism. 

James Mason, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: ‘We’ve been doing a roaring trade since July . . . supply can’t meet demand and many businesses are saying they’re booked into September and October.’ 

The chairman of the Wales Tourism Alliance, Andrew Campbell, happily reported that ‘self-catering is flying. It’s been booked out to an unprecedented level’. 

In 2018, international tourists spent just shy of £20billion in Britain. 

So, given that the big spenders, notably the Chinese and the Americans, were always going to stay away from the UK this summer, it was essential for British families to replace the absent foreign tourists. 

That does seem to have happened. Indeed, we have just returned from a fortnight in Cornwall. 

In our case, this was standard: in the more than a quarter of a century since our children were born, we have spent all but two of our summer holidays in either Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly. 

We were braced for the Cornish roads to be even more busy than usual in August — and they were. 

Crowded 

But still, the astoundingly beautiful coastal path was in no way crowded, and on our walks from the cottage we rented, we would generally be able to take in those glorious views with no one else within eyeshot. 

The point about tourism is that while the most well-known beauty spots are always inundated with holidaymakers, you don’t have to go far off the beaten track for less competitive sightseeing. 

Some of the most sought-after restaurants in England, including the Heron Inn at Malpas, near Truro, dropped out of Eat Out to Help Out as they simply couldn't cope with the volume of people turning up

Some of the most sought-after restaurants in England, including the Heron Inn at Malpas, near Truro, dropped out of Eat Out to Help Out as they simply couldn’t cope with the volume of people turning up

But it was noticeable how some of the most sought-after restaurants had dropped out of Eat Out to Help Out: they simply couldn’t cope with the volume of people turning up. 

So we paid full whack for lunch at the Heron Inn, with its gorgeous estuary vista high above Truro. 

Please note, we were not having a ‘staycation’. 

This term, properly used to describe those who take their holiday while staying at home, is now being applied to all vacations taken in one’s own country, which is a nonsense. 

Actually, the term ‘staycation’ describes what millions of Britons did for months during lockdown and furlough. 

But now the eating out and holidaying in Britain habits have returned, they need to continue even in the absence of Sunak’s ingenious stimulus. 

Your nation’s hostelries need you.