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Six in 10 adults ‘uncomfortable’ eating indoors at a restaurant – ONS

A meal deal scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week hopes to get more people dining out in August.

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Pubs and restaurants in England were able to re-open from Saturday July 4 (Victoria Jones/PA)

Pubs and restaurants in England were able to re-open from Saturday July 4 (Victoria Jones/PA)

Pubs and restaurants in England were able to re-open from Saturday July 4 (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Government’s “Eat out to Help Out” scheme may struggle to entice diners after a survey revealed more than half of adults feel uncomfortable about eating indoors at a restaurant.

A fifth of adults surveyed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said they would be comfortable or very comfortable doing so, with 60% disagreeing.

The poll of 1,788 adults in Britain was conducted between July 2-5 as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

Pubs and restaurants in England were able to re-open from Saturday July 4, following a series of loosening measures involving shops, hairdressers and cinemas.

A meal deal scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week hopes to get more people dining out in August to help the economy recover.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Half-price meals will be offered to diners eating out every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during August as part of the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

Women were more likely than men, and older people more likely than younger adults, to feel uncomfortable with eating at a restaurant indoors, the ONS said.

Two thirds of the over 70s are uncomfortable with the idea, compared with 59% of adults aged 16-69.

People were more likely to feel comfortable eating at an outdoor table – more than a third (37%) agreed with this while a similar proportion (39%) said they would feel uncomfortable doing so.

A spokesman for UKHospitality, which represents the sector, said: “Businesses have been working hard to reopen and to get the reopening right.

“UKHospitality has produced detailed guidance to make sure that staff and customers are made as safe as possible.”

The majority of respondents also said they were unlikely to go on a summer holiday, either in the UK or abroad.

More than eight in 10 respondents said they were unlikely to go abroad, while 62% said they were unlikely to holiday within the UK.

A quarter of the adults said they were likely or very likely to take a staycation, while 9% said the same for a holiday abroad.

The ONS noted that, while anxiety levels have been falling overall since the end of March, they rose in the week of the current survey.

On a scale of 0 to 10 representing increasing levels of anxiety, scores rose from 3.6 to 4 – the largest week-on-week increase.

In findings “perhaps reflecting the levels of uncertainty caused by lockdown”, a tenth (11%) of employees on furlough or temporarily not working said they did not know whether they would return to work.

Seven in 10 (71%) said they are likely or very likely to return to their job, while 9% said this is unlikely or very unlikely.

PA