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Coronavirus: A restaurant owners’ guide to the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme

The Government-backed discount scheme aims to support the restaurant and leisure sector. Here’s how your restaurant business could benefit.

A picture of a restaurant with cutlery and condiments on a table.

As things change rapidly during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, this guide will be updated regularly to reflect changes in rules and regulations.

During August 2020, eligible restaurants will be able to offer a 50% discount for food eaten on their premises between Monday and Wednesday, up to a maximum amount of £10 per diner. 

The scheme is designed to provide a boost to the restaurant and leisure sectors, which have been hit particularly hard by the impact of government measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus. 

How does the scheme work?

Restaurants will be able to offer 50% discounts on food and non-alcoholic drinks orders, with the discount capped at a value of £10 per customer.

Businesses can then claim back the difference from the government. The scheme is UK-wide and all participating restaurants will be listed on the GOV.UK website once the scheme goes live. 

The discount will apply all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August 2020. Service charges will not be included in any discount.

HM Treasury has said that there will be no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer while the scheme is in force.

Are you eligible to take part in the scheme?

You’re typically eligible to take part in the discount scheme if you run a business that sells food for immediate consumption on the premises.

Eligible businesses include:

  • Restaurants

  • Cafés

  • Pubs that serve food

  • Hotel restaurants

  • Food outlets in shopping centres with a designated dining area (even if shared with other businesses)

  • Restaurants and/or cafés within tourist attractions

  • Restaurants and/or cafés within leisure facilities

  • Dining rooms within private members’ clubs

  • Workplace and school canteens (where the diner pays for their food)

Some examples of businesses that are not eligible:

  • Food vans and trucks which do not offer a dedicated seating area for customers consuming food

  • Businesses that only sell takeaway food (not to be eaten at the premises)

  • Catering services for private functions

  • Hotels that only provide room service

Eligible sales

You will be able to offer the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks bought and consumed on the premises, up to a maximum discount of £10 per diner (including VAT). There is no minimum spend for a customer to be eligible for the discount.

You will not be able to apply the discount on the following items: 

  • Alcohol

  • Tobacco products

  • Any food or drink that is sold to be consumed off the premises

  • Any food or drink sold as part of a private party or function taking place on the premises.

The discount cannot be applied in workplace canteens where the owner of the premises pays for the food and gives it to staff for free.

If you run a hotel restaurant you can use the scheme for food and non-alcoholic drinks sold for immediate consumption on the premises.  

But this does not include food and drink that is sold as part of a wider service. For example, if a hotel guest has the cost of their meals included in the overall price of their stay, then this food cannot be subject to the discount. 

If you include a service charge on your bill, then this is not included in the scheme discount. The reduction will only apply to sums spent on food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Can you take part if you have already benefited from the government’s job retention schemes? 

Yes, you can still register for the discount scheme even if you’ve already made use of other schemes like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme. 

For more information on Government schemes for employers, read our Going back to work guide for employers.

Registering for the scheme

Full details on how to register are on the GOV.UK site.

If you are applying on behalf of fewer than 25 separate premises that are part of the same business, then you will have to list the details of each outlet.

If you are applying on behalf of more than 25 separate premises that are part of the same business, then you will not have to provide the details of each one.

What happens once you’ve registered

Once you’ve registered, you’ll receive a registration reference number. You’ll need to give this number out when you’re claiming reimbursements from the government.

Your business will then appear on a public list of outlets that are registered for the scheme.

The government has also prepared promotional materials like posters that you can use for free to show customers that you’re taking part in the scheme. They can be accessed on the GOV.UK site.

Hopefully, this scheme will provide a boost to business over the coming month. Best of luck!