More than 35 million half-price meals have been served by restaurants across the UK in the first two weeks of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
The Treasury said that millions of people have dined out on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday so far this month, and claims from restaurants are streaming in.
Over 85,000 restaurants have signed up to the government-backed scheme which reimburses them for half the price of meals eaten on location.
The scheme runs for the first three days of each week all throughout August.
Restaurants take off 50% from the bill, up to £10, and then claim the money back from the Government.
Around 48,000 different claims have so far been made for money back, the Treasury said.
Restaurant chains such as Wagamama submit claims for every site they operate, and many sites will already have submitted more than one claim.
More claims for the first two weeks of the scheme are therefore likely to trickle in.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s figures show that Britain is eating out to help out, with at least 35 million meals served up in the first two weeks alone, that is equivalent to over half of the UK taking part and supporting local jobs in the hospitality sector.
“To build back better we must protect as many jobs as possible, that is why I am urging all registered businesses to make the most of this by claiming back today – it’s free, simple and pays out within 5 working days.”
The Treasury urged people to enjoy the scheme “as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.”
Around 8% of the country’s workforce, or 2.4 million people, work in the hospitality, accommodation and attractions sector, which was badly hit during lockdown.
About 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, and 1.4 workers from the sector were furloughed.
Stephen Wall, the co-founder of restaurant chain Pho, said: “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has really been amazing.
“It’s so nice to see our restaurants full of happy staff and customers again.
“It has certainly benefited our early week figures and seems to have encouraged the British public to dine out safely, as our restaurants are filling up and staying busy throughout the weekend, too.”