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DOMINIC LAWSON: Now we're hungry again, we all have to keep eating for the UK


Good luck hopping into your favorite restaurant if you haven't booked well in advance.

This public holiday Monday is the last day of the Eat Out to Help Out program, on which guests can claim 50 percent of the cost of their meal (up to a maximum of £ 10 per capita) from the government.

Or rather, from all of us as taxpayers.

However, this is not the time to cavill. Chancellor Rishi Sunak's ploy was considered so unusual by Treasury officials that he forced them to approve it with a "ministerial order".

Rishi Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out program ends today after a month with discounted meals for guests

This is the formal tool required when a permanent secretary (the most senior official in each department) believes that a spending proposal is "inappropriate or bad value for money".

The sheer volume of its use – no fewer than 64 million discounted meals were consumed in over 80,000 restaurants and pubs in the first three weeks – helped save our hospitality industry in a time of unprecedented economic peril.

shock

Perhaps officials believed the program would simply subsidize meals that were being sold anyway, or just move business to the early part of the week (the discount was available Monday through Wednesday).

However, the magnitude of the surge in demand, which in normal pre-Covid times is even above the level, suggests that much more has been done.

David Williams, owner of the Baltic Market, which houses a dozen catering businesses in a converted 18th century brewery in Liverpool, remarked earlier this month, “People, including me, underestimated the effect it would have.

"Most restaurants in Liverpool can't even get a table Monday through Wednesday all of August."

The program sent a rush through a population who refused to eat at all, not necessarily out of fear of infection, but just out of indolence or a habit acquired during the lockdown.

David Williams, owner of Liverpool's Baltic Market, said companies "underestimated" the effect of Eat Out to Help Out

David Williams, owner of Liverpool's Baltic Market, said companies "underestimated" the effect of Eat Out to Help Out

But there is a second, much less popular, government policy that must also celebrate the rescue (temporary or non-temporary) of countless small businesses related to domestic tourism.

This is the sudden imposition of quarantine restrictions on British people returning from certain other countries.

First it was Spain, then France, then Croatia.

Now even the ultra-hygienic Switzerland has been removed from the list of nations with a quarantine-free "travel corridor" to Great Britain.

In all of these cases, the requirement that returning travelers should self-isolate for a fortnight has been enforced with little warning based on reported increases in Covid infections in affected countries.

This is the official line and is publicly justified in order to limit further outbreaks of the virus in the UK.

It is therefore strange that, unlike in other countries, the quarantine process seems to be monitored so ineffectively here.

As journalist Jenni Russell noted, “I walked through the Heathrow e-gates twice this summer and saw my fellow travelers passing through without filling out their forms or being stopped.

"There is no reinforcement of the quarantine report on arrival, no leaflets, no feeling that this is really important."

Hot spots

It's almost as if the real reason behind the seemingly capricious imposition of these requirements was to discourage people from taking their vacations abroad and instead spending their money here – as an added incentive to Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out program .

If so, it worked – and not just in hotspots as obvious as Cornwall, where one in three private business jobs is linked to tourism.

Cornwall's coastal paths weren't in any way crowded during Dominic Lawson's last vacation

Cornwall's coastal paths weren't in any way crowded during Dominic Lawson's last vacation

James Mason, General Manager of Welcome to Yorkshire said, “We've been doing a roaring deal since July. . . Supply cannot meet demand and many companies say they booked in September and October. & # 39;

Wales Tourism Alliance Chairman Andrew Campbell was pleased to report that self-catering are flying. It's booked to an unprecedented level. & # 39;

In 2018, international tourists in the UK spent just under £ 20 billion.

Given that the big donors, especially the Chinese and Americans, would always stay away from Britain this summer, it was imperative for British families to replace the absent foreign tourists.

That seems to have happened. In fact, we have just returned from a fortnight in Cornwall.

In our case, it was standard: in the more than a quarter of a century since our children were born, we have spent all but two of our summer holidays in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly.

We were prepared for the Cornwall roads to be even more busy than usual in August – and they were.

Overfilled

Even so, the amazingly beautiful coastal path was in no way overcrowded and on our walks from the cabin we rented we were generally able to enjoy these magnificent views without anyone else in sight.

The point about tourism is that while the best known beauty spots are always inundated with vacationers, you don't have to be far off the beaten path to see less competitive sights.

Some of the most sought-after restaurants in England, including the Heron Inn at Maplas near Truro, left Eat Out to help as they simply couldn't handle the amount of people who showed up

Some of the most sought-after restaurants in England, including the Heron Inn at Maplas near Truro, dropped out of Eat Out to Help Out because they simply couldn't handle the amount of people who showed up

But it was remarkable how some of the most sought-after restaurants got out of Eat Out to Help Out: they just couldn't handle the amount of people that showed up.

So we paid for lunch at the Heron Inn with its beautiful view of the estuary high above Truro.

Please note that we did not have a stay.

This term, properly used to describe those who spend their vacation at home, is now being applied to any vacation in their own country, which is nonsense.

In fact, the term "stay" describes what millions of Britons did for months during the lockdown and vacation.

But now that the UK eating and vacationing habits have returned, they must be continued even without Sunak's ingenious incentive.

Your nation's hostels need you.

Was I too perky about my wife's wild cougar claims?

Over 20 years ago, my wife claimed she saw it: a cougar, that is.

And we weren't on safari.

That animal was at the gate of our house in East Sussex. At least that's what she said.

I should add that our home is adjacent to the Dallington Forest, an ancient wooded area where such a creature could, at least in theory, live on the deer that it is sure to inhabit.

Still, I denied Rosa's claim and laughed when she described the animal she saw as "black and hopping."

Dr. Andrew Hemmings led a team of scientists who examined more than 100 animal remains in British forests. Some of the tooth bites studied could only be made into a "leopard or puma," according to the study

Dr. Andrew Hemmings led a team of scientists who examined more than 100 animal remains in British forests. Some of the tooth bites studied could only be made into a "leopard or puma," according to the study

Some house cats can be quite large, I told her, and do some loping.

But when she insisted this wasn't an oversized tabby, I called it sardonically: "The Puma from Dallington Forest".

From time to time I would ask about this when Rosa came back from a walk and asked if she had eaten one of our dogs whole or was content with just one or two legs.

With some justification, my wife drew my attention to a newspaper story last week called "The British Big Cat Theory Shows Their Teeth".

This was a report on the results of a team of scientists led by Dr. Andrew Hemmings of the Royal Agricultural University, who examined more than 100 skeletal remains of animals in British forests.

While the "black and hopping" creature discovered on the edge of Dallington Forest may not have been a puma, scientists have found potential evidence of big cats living in British forests

While the "black and hopping" creature discovered on the edge of Dallington Forest may not have been a puma, scientists have found potential evidence of big cats living in British forests

Dental bite impressions "which could only be made by an alien cat the size of a leopard or puma" were found on some of them.

Dr. Hemmings said, "The others are more likely to indicate small carnivores, but five certainly go with puma or black leopard."

As far as I know, the discoveries weren't in our woods.

But for now, I'll handle my wife's puma sighting with less ease.

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