UK restaurants have seen a massive surge in bookings as lockdown curbs were eased by the government this month.
Bookings in the week to May 24 were 132% higher than their level two years earlier, before the pandemic struck, according to data from booking website OpenTable produced for the Office for National Statistics.
This was an increase of 59 percentage points from the previous week, and is the highest level seen since the week to August 31, 2020 (165%), around the time of the government’s controversial Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
The state-backed scheme, gave diners a 50% discount, up to £10, on meals and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August, but was widely blamed for a spike in Covid-19 infections that forced further lockdowns.
“This latest week’s substantial increase follows the reopening of indoor dining in England, Wales, and Scotland on 17 May 2021 and continues the rise in seated diner estimates observed since the first reopening of pubs and restaurants in England on 12 April 2021,” the ONS said.
It also revealed that the proportion of employees on furlough fell to 8% for the period May 3-16, down from 10% in the previous two-week period.