‘Better’ if Eat Out to Help Out ‘hadn’t happened’, says Sturgeon

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday (30 September) that it “may have been better” if the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme “hadn’t happened.”

Speaking on ITV’s Peston yesterday evening, Sturgeon, when questioned about the link between the scheme and the current rise of covid-19 cases across the country, said that with the benefit of “hindsight,” she felt that the scheme had been “harmful”.

She added: “I know that that scheme was about trying to incentivise people to help the economy, and we can’t be blind to the economic impact here.”

Household gatherings in Scotland have been banned and the country is now experiencing another cluster of infection at the university of Dundee.

Sturgeon pointed to indoor interactions as her main concern, stating that a ban on mixing households at home must be coupled with restrictions on hospitality settings, “where people are coming together and mingling.”

The Scottish first minister’s comments come after the hospitality industry’s disappointment at the introduction of the 10pm curfew rule last week.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, took to twitter to comment on Sturgeon’s claims, arguing: “There was no spike in cases throughout July and August, even when the scheme was at its peak – and Scottish businesses and consumers didn’t actually benefit from the full scheme.”

She insisted: “Hospitality reopened safely with reduced occupancy and social distancing.”

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