PUBS and restaurants have pulled out of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme as "rude" diners abuse staff during the midweek rush.
Disgruntled staff working across the nation's hospitality industry have shared their frustration after being met by customers eager to take advantage of the government scheme.
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Under the scheme, which came into force earlier this month, restaurants charge customers half price – up to £10 per diner – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and then claim the money back from the Government.
But owners say a surge in demand on these days has led to staff being shouted at, and "physical and mental stress."
It comes as the Government revealed it was set to pay out £180 million to cover the cost of the discounted meals so far.
The Tavern Inn in Newquay is one venue that has pulled out of the discount scheme, which is capped at £10 per diner and does not include alcoholic drinks.
Owner Kelly Hill told the BBC: "It has brought us nothing but negativity due to the huge demand, causing long waits on food, tables over-running and hostility towards our staff.
"People are ordering big, big meals; they are not willing to wait for their food; our staff are being shouted at for having no tables, or for the service being slow.
"It's put an awful lot of strain on our waiting staff and kitchen staff."
Sharing their frustration, owners of the seaside restaurant the Paddock Inn near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, said revellers were advantage of the widely-popular scheme and had shown "extreme levels of rudeness" and caused staff "nothing but grief."
The Paddock Inn, in Penally, Wales said it joined on as a perk to customers as "the custom is already there" for them anyway.
But as they only have one chef in the kitchen due to restrictive social distancing measures, meals were taking longer than usual.
The restaurant said: "Our team have persevered in order to accommodate those looking to get a highly discounted meal, which has brought them nothing but grief.
"The government's scheme doesn't really do much for us as the custom is already there but we decided to do it for you.
"However, we are seriously considering pulling the plug on this due to the extreme levels of rudeness, lack of understanding, and complete impatience of some of our recent customers."
In Crantock near Newquay, the C-Bay bistro says the scheme has led to a loss of business because people are not booking for the days when it is not running.
Owner Nina Eyles said: "In July we were full every day, but now Mondays to Wednesdays are absolutely manic and we are much quieter than normal on the other days.
"If it was in winter we would be so grateful and it would have been amazing."
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs revealed the enormous cost of the scheme so far, just hours after the Treasury said it had received 48,000 claims from the 85,000 restaurants that have signed up.
Rishi Sunak said: "Today's figures show that Britain is eating out to help out – with at least 35 million meals served up in the first two weeks alone, that is equivalent to over half of the UK taking part and supporting local jobs in the hospitality sector.
"To build back better we must protect as many jobs as possible, that is why I am urging all registered businesses to make the most of this by claiming back today – it's free, simple and pays out within five working days."
Hospitality workers have also taken to social media to document their problems with the scheme.
One person wrote: "Whoever came up with this f******* eat out to help out scheme has clearly never worked in a restaurant.
What is Eat Out to Help Out?
THE government is covering half of the cost of a meal out, up to £10 a head, including children's meals.
The discount means that a meal out for one that costs £20 will be reduced to £10, but a £25 meal for one will be slashed to £15 because of the £10 cap per person.
There is no limit to the number of times you can use the discount, so in theory you can get half price meals on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August.
Businesses will need to register with the scheme on Gov.uk before being able to offer the discount, as well as be Food Standards Agency approved.
Instead of issuing discount vouchers – which the government felt increased the risk of fraud – restaurants, cafes and pubs will be able to claim back the cash.
The refund will then been transferred into restaurants, cafes and pubs' bank accounts within five working days.
Customers will only receive the discount if they eat out at a registered business.
"Literally the worst night of my 8 years in the hospitality industry ever, some people are rude as f***."
Another wrote: "PSA: If you book a table for eat out to help out, please anticipate the place will be packed and the food will take a bit longer than usual.
"I'm sick of customers being so rude over something I can't control."
The Heron Inn in Truro is another restaurant to retract the offer, citing customers' "unpleasant" and "unwelcome behaviour" on why they decided to call time on the scheme.
The Inn wrote on Facebook: "Safety is our main priority, and with the increased amount of people visiting us, it is making it difficult for us to manage with social distancing rules in place.
"We have received unpleasant comments and general unwelcome behaviour from customers when they are unable to find a table due to us having reached capacity."
The Westleigh Inn near Bideford in Devon has also withdrawn because of the "physical and mental stress it has put us and all our staff under".
The Eat Out To Help Out scheme – which started on August 3 – saw some 24.5million dishes enjoyed by Britons in 85,000 participating restaurants in its second week.
This figure is nearly double the 10million who took advantage between August 3 and August 9.
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