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U.K. paying for 50% of meals out to help restaurants survive COVID-19--should Canada follow suit?

Last Updated Sep 1, 2020 at 7:52 pm MDT

WINNIPEG – Would you eat at restaurants more if you knew 50 per cent of your bill would be covered?

For the last month, the U.K.’s Prime Minister has been picking up half the tab for millions of citizens who choose to eat out during pandemic.

The “eat out to help out” scheme was launched to help restaurants earn income during the pandemic and research shows food sales at participating restaurants went up compared to the same time last year, with some restaurants earning between 70 to 90 per cent more.

“We’re definitely looking forward (to see) at what the UK has done and see if it would be applicable to Canada,” said David Lefebvre, VP of Federal Affairs with Restaurant Canada.

“There’s a few of those kind of initiatives around the world that, you know, we are always on the lookout to see if it really helps operators and really helps restaurants.”

Lefebvre says for 10 per cent of the restaurants in Canada won’t be able to bounce back from the pandemic and say no amount of finical help will save them.

Sixty per cent more are looking at closing their doors within the next 90 days. Lefebvre says the results from the U.K. concept warrants a closer look.

“It is definitely something Restaurants Canada is thinking of in terms of pitching the idea to the government especially as we move to fall and winter months.”

Peter Troug, co-owner of Kyu bistro in Winnipeg feels the Canadian government has done a good job helping him and other restaurant owners manage the initial impacts of COVID-19 closures.

However, Troug says we’re seeing how important learning from each other is during the pandemic and if the U.K. did something good for restaurants and diners, that’s a win-win worth exploring.

“We’ve got to be open to any other programs or what other countries are doing,” he said.

“If it works maybe we should apply it here, and I just think it would help the economy like the restaurant industry is such a huge part of the economy.”