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Sunak must apologise for ill-thought-out Eat Out scheme

26th Aug 2021
Sunak must apologise for ill-thought-out Eat Out scheme

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak chairs the daily Covid-19 Press Conference
(Credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)

The Treasury has yet to accept the deadly ramifications of its ill-thought-out ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. No one disputes the intents of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in seeking to kick-start the hospitality sector.

Yet, like so many of the Government’s solutions to the Covid pandemic, the plan badly misfired, with research suggesting it helped spread the deadly virus ahead of what proved to be a second wave.

The scheme, which subsidised £849 million in meals and drinks at participating eateries by 50 per cent of up to £10 per person, was a popular hit, rising above the original budget of £500 million. Its downfall

was that several analysts linked the surge in dining with rising infections.
Sunak’s reputation has been tarnished by the findings, especially after it was reported that he bypassed scientific advice on the initiative.

Professor Parvez Haris of De Montfort University in Leicester told The Muslim News the Chancellor created the “ideal environment” for exposure to Covid-19 in communities with the highest proportion of people working in the restaurant sector. “It didn’t need rocket science to predict that this was going to increase the transmission of the virus and, ultimately, death.”

Minority ethnic groups, including Muslims, have been grossly disproportionately affected by the pandemic for a variety of reasons.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities constitute the highest proportion of restaurant workers and are often working in tiny kitchens without adequate ventilation; most were ill-prepared for the onslaught bought by Government’s hapless plans.

Similar to the lack of basic safeguards for frontline healthcare and transport staff, most of whom are Muslim, no grants were made available to small restaurateurs to upgrade kitchen ventilation before launching the scheme.

So many lives have been lost by the failure of the Government to implement health and safety rules and regulations. Figures for the second wave are startling, showing dramatic increases in mortality rates among Bangladeshis and Pakistanis while all other ethnicities recorded decreases.

Despite its best PR damage limitation exercise, the consensus among epidemiologists and economists remains, the Treasury’s subsidizing of indoor gatherings during a pandemic was a fatal mistake.
An apology from Sunak is long overdue.

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The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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