Diners have eaten more than 35million Eat Out To Help Out meals

Diners have eaten more than 35million Eat Out To Help Out meals in Rishi Sunak’s half-price scheme as police use emergency powers to break up crowds queuing outside restaurants

  • Scheme saw some 24.5million dishes sold in 85,000 restaurants in second week 
  • Figure is nearly double 10million who took advantage in the schemes first week 
  • But concerned police in Leicester say huge crowds are gathering for restaurants

Diners have eaten more than 35million Eat Out To Help Out meals under Rishi Sunak’s half-price scheme.

The scheme – which started on August 3 – saw some 24.5million dishes enjoyed by Britons in 85,000 participating restaurants in its second week. 

This figure is nearly double the 10million who took advantage between August 3 and August 9. 

But concerned police in Leicester have been forced to use emergency powers to break up huge crowds eagerly waiting to take restaurants up on their offer.

Police will enforce a new Outdoor Public Place Direction banning people from unsafely queuing or congregating outside a string of food outlets on one road in the city – where lockdown measures have been reinforced amid a localised outbreak. 

Diners have eaten more than 35million Eat Out To Help Out meals under Rishi Sunak’s (pictured) half-price scheme

The scheme – which started on August 3 – saw some 24.5million dishes enjoyed by Britons in 85,000 participating restaurants in its second week. Pictured: Queues for tables outside Wagamama in Peterborough

A seaside restaurant has been overrun by ‘rude’ customers on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – and is threatening to axe it.

Greedy bargain-hunters were blamed for ‘extreme levels of rudeness’ when looking for a half price meal at the Paddock Inn.

The award-winning pub restaurant at Penally near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, said the scheme giving customers up to £10 off their meals had caused ‘nothing but grief’.

The restaurant said it was only able to employ one chef due to social distancing measures in its tiny kitchen so there was a delay in meals being prepared.

But new customers cashing in on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has seen the restaurant busier than usual – and staff were struggling to keep up.

The government meal deal means diners can get half price on meals such as the pub’s £12.95 beef lasagne, or the £14.95 rump steak.

The restaurant said: ‘Our team have persevered in order to accommodate those looking to get a highly discounted meal, which has brought them nothing but grief.

‘The government’s scheme doesn’t really do much for us as the custom is already there but we decided to do it for you.

‘However, we are seriously considering pulling the plug on this due to the extreme levels of rudeness, lack of understanding, and complete impatience of some of our recent customers.’

‘If you are incapable of understanding this then go and get a table elsewhere.

‘You will likely find that there is also a wait there as this is natural when operating with less staff.

‘We are currently discussing amongst ourselves whether or not to continue with the scheme as it is simply not fair to expose our staff to the kind of behaviour that we have seen this week.

‘We will of course notify every booking should we decide to cancel.’

The Paddock Inn, on the outskirts of the holiday town of Tenby, was shortlisted for Best Local Pub in 2019 Great British Pub Awards and won an award for being the first ‘carbon free’ pub in Wales.

On its website the pub boasts: ‘We serve our lager as cold as your ex-wife’s heart.’

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said of the numbers released today: ‘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 five working days.’

The order on London Road in Leicester – put in place from Monday – will be enforced by police and backed up by security stewards.

On its first night Leicester Police had to urge locals to stay away from the area, tweeting: ‘Please can the area of London Road (Leicester city centre) be avoided due to the large amount of people in the area that is causing the overcrowding.

‘In particular restaurants and takeaways unless you have a pre-booked time at a restaurant.

‘Thank you for your assistance.’

The council had previously asked people using the offer not to turn up for meals more than 10 minutes before their pre-booked slots.

Individual Public Health Premises Directions are also being given to six busy food outlets in London Road.

It follows warning notices issued by officers from the council’s regulatory services team who witnessed problems with large groups of customers ignoring social distancing guidelines.

The businesses must now ensure they put in place strict systems to manage queues safely and only admit customers who have booked in advance.

Owners who fail to follow the new legislation will face fines ranging from £100 to £3,200 for repeat offences, and as a last resort could also be issued with a prohibition notice, effectively closing them down.

Councillor Piara Singh Clair said: ‘Social distancing measures are in place nationally as a key part of the fight to reduce Covid-19 infections, but we’ve seen problems with uncontrolled queueing outside a number of restaurants in London Road.

‘We are bringing in an Outdoor Public Place Direction to prevent people from turning up at restaurants without having booked, and then gathering or queuing without social distancing outside these businesses. 

‘We are working with food outlets to ensure they have correct procedures in place for people to enter and exit safely.

‘This includes proper queueing and booking systems, and informing customers not to arrive earlier than 10 minutes before their reservation.

‘We have already issued several restaurants with warning notices about their level of compliance with these measures, and while some improvements have been made, there is still work to be done.

‘Therefore issuing them with Individual Public Health Premises Directions  will ensure they make the changes needed to comply with the legislation, which is there to protect the health and welfare of their customers and staff members alike.’ 

Some 10million people took advantage of the scheme between August 3 and August 9. Pictured: A queue for a restaurant during the scheme 

The temporary regulations will run for the rest of August, during the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme.

In June, Leicester became the first UK city to have lockdown restrictions reimposed, following an alarming rise in Covid-19 infections.

Conditions have been eased since, but residents are still banned from meeting people from different households in their homes and gardens, and gyms and wedding ceremonies remain off limits. 

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