Government's Eat Out To Help Out voucher scheme could lead to new jobs in Sunderland
Sunderland restaurant owners have welcomed the announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak of the latest plans to help the hospitality industry recover from the pandemic.
During the mini-budget announcement on Wednesday, July 8, Mr Sunak announced an “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme. It means that everyone in the UK will receive a discount to help get customers back into cafes, pubs and restaurants in a bid to boost trade.
Customers eating a meal at any participating business, Monday to Wednesday throughout August, will be entitled to a discount of up to £10 per head in the party – including children.
Any business that chooses to be involved in the scheme will then be able to claim the money back – with the Chancellor promising that funds with be back in their bank account within five working days.
The budget included incentives for employers to retain staff and schemes to get people into work.
Sunderland pubs and restaurants were finally able to open their doors last weekend, with social distancing measures in place, and business owners have welcomed the latest pledge of support from the Government.
Carlton Johnston, co-owns 808 Bar & Kitchen in St Thomas Street in the city centre, which invested heavily in social distancing measures to reopen, including perspex screens, signage, increased door staff and sanitization stations.
They’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback for their measures, as well as for a new menu, and are looking forward to a busy weekend of bookings again this weekend.
Carlton said: “It’s great news. I’d heard rumours about vouchers but didn’t believe it, I didn’t expect any more help from the Government, but this is a great incentive for people to come out and use local restaurants. It also gives them further peace of mind that it’s safe to eat out now.
“We usually close on Mondays and Tuesdays but we’re thinking of opening after this announcement. As well as helping us retain staff, we think it will help us to take on a couple of other staff members too, which would be temporary at first.”
Ian Wong owns Asiana Fusion restaurant in West Wear Street, one of the city’s most popular and longest-standing restaurants.
He said: “Seems like a great idea, provided there isn’t a million hoops to jump through. Also depending on further details due to come out, would it not be just as easy to extend the specials/early evening menus to attract more customers throughout the week?
“Any scheme to increase footfall in the restaurants that have already had to drastically reduce capacity is a great idea nonetheless. Asiana will certainly look into it and if feasible, we will likely offer the discount when it is made available.”
Harry Collinson owns The Looking Glass in Sunniside. He said: “We were originally planning to open on weekends only, but with this new scheme coming into place it’s making us rethink about opening Monday to Wednesday as well, as discount vouchers might encourage more people to eat local throughout August which will help balance the trade that we have lost.”
Neil Bassett, from Mexico 70 in High Street West and Ship Isis in Silksworth Row, said: “As long as restaurants and diners stick to Government Covid guidelines it can only be seen as a good thing for both customers and the industry.
“The Ship Isis is a huge venue, spread out over two floors and we’ve been able to strictly follow government guidelines and reopen the bar and we’re now also offering a menu of hand-stretched Neapolitan pizza.
“Mexico 70 is a much smaller space and we’re looking into ways to help us reopen safely as soon as possible.”
It comes as Sunderland Echo is running its #SupportLocal campaign to encourage people to use local businesses.
See our guide to cafes and coffee shop which have reopened with social distancing in place see here.