People are being urged to eat out to help out once more after a county councillor asked diners to help their favourite venues on the road to recovery.
Pubs and restaurants have been unable to welcome customers to dine in for several months during the past year as part of national and regional lockdown measures to control the spread of covid-19 (writes local democracy reporter Kerry Ashdown).
Last summer, the Government introduced the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which offered customers a 50% discount on their food bill at participating venues on weekdays during August 2020, following the relaxation of the first lockdown.
But while the move led to a surge in bookings and customers it also proved controversial, with concerns that it may have led to a rise in covid-19 infections.
Hospitality venues started 2021 in lockdown, with only takeaway, delivery and drive-through services allowed. From April they were able to welcome back customers to outdoor seating areas before indoor drinking and dining was permitted once more from 17th May.
And Thursday’s Cabinet meeting of Staffordshire County Council was given an update on the economic recovery programme, with one councillor encouraging residents to play their part in helping hospitality firms bounce back.
County Coun Ian Parry, Cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “I think the delay from 21st (June) in taking the wraps off has an impact on those businesses that require physical volume to sustain them, whether they be hospitality or sports venues.
“It’s particularly those small or medium-sized businesses, independent businesses that are taking a hit and may well not recover or take some time to recover due to the fact they cannot get the volumes the need to make their businesses sustainable and profitable.
“Back in August last year the Government announced Eat Out To Help Out – let’s go back to eat out to help out because I’ve been out a couple of times and quite easily get reservations and it’s quite easy to get into restaurants, diners and pubs. Even with social distancing they seem a little empty and you think we need to get out more.”
He added: “We need to help these hospitality venues as much as possible. At least we can perhaps put down the encouragement to folk to come out and help our small businesses to sustain them. Otherwise they will disappear, and your favourite pubs, cafés and restaurants may not be there in six months’ time.
“We need to eat out to help out once again.”
County Coun Johnny McMahon, Cabinet support member for public health care, added: “I agree entirely. But we’re not just helping small businesses, we’re helping ourselves because we are social animals.
“We’ve got to get back to doing what is natural to us, which is getting out there and living our life.”