Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under questioning by the inquiry on whether the Eat Out to Help Out scheme caused a spike in Covid infections and subsequent deaths. It is also said to have aided in the second lockdown due to high cases of the virus.
Government scientists have also noted that they were not considered in the discussion that led to the Eat Out scheme. They believe that had they been involved in the discourse they would have sighted the potential risks in the scheme. Some members of the Government even named Sunak ‘Dr death’ and the treasury ‘pro-death squad’ in confidentiality.
Mr Sunak who was Chancellor at the time introduced the arrangement. The concept was; on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays diners got 50% off of their meals and soft drinks in restaurants and pubs. The state-backed scheme was called ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ and was run throughout August 2020.
The new Prime Minister believes that the scheme was the right thing to do and that one of the main reasons why it was implemented was to ‘Safeguard’ millions of jobs as that was the ‘Right thing to do’
When questioned by the inquiry on why he chose this method of safeguarding the hospitality industry, Sunak answered “This was a very reasonable, sensible policy intervention to help safeguard those jobs in that safe reopening,” Sunak added “I didn’t believe that it was a risk. I believe it was the right thing to do.”
Statistics show that there was an increase in cases. In the UK data from tests displayed a clear increase from 6,400 in the first week of August 2020 to 23,000 in mid-September 2020. This demonstrates that there was an increase of around 250%.
Mr Sunak stands by his past decisions. Telling the inquiry “This was a micro policy (Eat out to help out scheme) to make sure that that capacity which the scientists had already said was part of an overall package which could be safely delivered, was actually used.”
Mr Sunak said “All the data, all the evidence, all the polling, all the input from those companies suggested that unless we did something, many of those jobs would have been at risk with devastating consequences for those people and their families,”
The inquiry is said to continue until Summer 2026.
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