Boris Johnson Admits Eat Out To Help Out Scheme May Have Contributed To Virus Spread
The scheme was introduced in August, offering diners 50 percent off meals between Monday and Wednesday each week to encourage them to support businesses that had been hit by the pandemic.
According to treasury figures, more than 100 million discounted meals were eaten under the scheme, suggesting it had been a huge success.
However, in the month or so following the campaign, coronavirus cases have started to soar.
While Chancellor Rishi Sunak has denied a link between the scheme and the ever-increasing spread of the virus - arguing it is too 'simplistic' to consider it in isolation - the UK's Prime Minister has since taken 'full responsibility' for recent developments.
Asked whether or not he felt Eat Out to Help Out had contributed towards the spread of the virus, Johnson told the BBC: "I take full responsibility for everything that's happened since the pandemic began of course.
"And the Government is trying as I say throughout this to strike a balance.
"We had to go into lockdown in March and April and that was effective in bringing the virus down.
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"I think it was right to reopen the economy. I think if we hadn't done that, if we hadn't got things moving again in the summer, we would be looking at many more hundreds of thousands of jobs lost."
Once again pressed on the scheme's impact on the number of coronavirus cases, he added: "I also think that it is important now, irrespective of whether Eat Out To Help Out... you know, what the balance of there was, it unquestionably helped to protect many... there are two million jobs at least in the hospitality sector.
"It was very important to keep those jobs going.
"Now, if it, insofar as that scheme may have helped to spread the virus, then obviously we need to counteract that and we need to counteract that with the discipline and the measures that we're proposing.
"I hope you understand the balance we're trying to strike."
Sunak had previously denied any such link, having said in a press conference that what was happening in the UK simply echoes what's also occurring in other countries, arguing there are 'lots of different factors at play'.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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