Restaurants and other food outlets such as pubs were only allowed to reopen on July 4, more than three months after they were closed as part of the coronavirus lockdown.

“It’s so nice to see our restaurants full of happy staff and customers again,” said Stephen Wall, managing director and co-founder of the popular restaurant chain Pho.

Local favorites have also seen an uptick in business, including the south Indian vegetarian restaurant, Rasa, in Stoke Newington, in north London.

“This makes the customers come out,” said assistant manager Musthafa Kunnummal. “So they may start coming out during the weekends. They are a bit more confident to go out to restaurants. I really appreciate this — it did a great job.”

The government is hoping that the program will stave off job losses.

“Today’s figures show that Britain is eating out to help out with at least 35 million meals served up in the first two weeks alone,” said Treasury chief Rishi Sunak. “That is equivalent to over half of the U.K. taking part and supporting local jobs in the hospitality sector.”

When it was launched many critics said the plan was just a gimmick to generate headlines, with many fearing that any rebound in August would lead to a slump in later months.

Dining out: 35 million meals claimed in UK discount plan | World

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