Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended promoting the return to UK bars and restaurants over the summer through the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.
Speaking to Sky News, the chancellor diluted the link between his scheme and the spike in cases across the country as he stated people were “jumping to simplistic conclusions”.
In August the chancellor launched the EOTHOS, to help hospitality sectors that were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme allowed for diners who chose to eat inside an establishment to receive up to 50% off their meal.
The scheme saw diners spend 34.2% more at restaurants and fast food outlets on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August than they did in July.
Sky News reported that between 10 August and 20 September, Public Health England (PHE) said that people who tested positive for Covid-19 stated that eating out was their most commonly reported activity in the two to seven days before they felt symptoms of the virus.
Sunak also told Sky: “[different analysis of PHE data had revealed] a very small percentage of the causes of transmission were hospitality settings. One thing we know is, and I speak to our scientists almost every day, it’s incredibly difficult at such a granular level to pinpoint exactly the cause of transmission”.