Operators across the industry have reported a significant uplift in bookings and sales during week one of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

According to UK Hospitality, 93% of eligible sector businesses are involved in the initiative, which will see the Government subsidise a 50% reduction on customer’s food or non-alcoholic drinks up to £10 per person from Mondays to Wednesdays throughout August.

On the day of launch (3 August), 73,000 outlets had signed up to the scheme, and so far, approximately 3.3m people have used the government’s online restaurant finder.

Commenting on his experience of Eat Out to Help Out’s first full week, Nando’s UK & Ireland CEO Colin Hill said: “Eat Out to Help Out has given a welcome boost to the hospitality industry at a time where we are looking to reignite sales, restore customer confidence and protect jobs. We’ve been busy so far this week, welcoming many new and existing customers back into our restaurants which is encouraging to see.

“It’s too early to tell the long-term success of the initiative due to the many challenges that we still have to navigate in the weeks and months ahead, but so far it has proven popular with our customers.”

Oakman Inns founder Peter Borg Neal said: “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been fantastic for us, we have been over twice as busy as we were this time last year. It great to see people socialising in a safe environment and the scheme is clearly protecting jobs.

“Moving forward, further financial help is needed to protect pubs and restaurants who have accumulated debt, such as rent, if we’re going to save those businesses and their jobs.”

Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor – which has received over 15,000 bookings for the 13 days of the scheme across its six sites - said: “We’ve seen lower sales due to the lower spend per head, but we’re still incredibly happy. Everyone loves having busy restaurants and lots of new people are coming in and trying Hawksmoor for the first time, or finding a way to come back that they can afford at the moment.

“Anything that encourages people to leave the home and start enjoying restaurants again is great. The industry needs this kind of kick-start at the moment. I think it is a really good example of much-needed government intervention for an industry still in crisis.”

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls added: The sector has been quick to adopt the scheme and customers have been quick to take advantage of the many great deals available, with many newly social-distanced venues now booked up. We hope that people continue to enjoy a fantastic dining out experience at a significant discount throughout the rest of August.”