Published: 16:52, 29 March 2021
| Updated: 19:32, 29 March 2021
Just over half of those responding to a KentOnline question about the return of the Eat Out to Help Out inititative say they don't want to see it back.
Lockdown rules have eased further today and the reopening of hospitality venues outdoors is due no earlier than April 12 - but many people warned the eating out scheme could contribute to a third wave of Covid-19.
The scheme, spearheaded by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, involved restaurants and pubs offering discount price meals for customers during the summertime from last August 3.
The government funded the difference in a move to help the economy, battered by the first coronavirus lockdown last spring.
A question posed on the KentOnline Facebook page today was: "Would you like to see a return of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme?"
Hundreds of comments were made, and 56.2% were saying no to the idea and 43.8% saying yes.
Readers against included Louise Claire who wrote: "Absolutely not, that genius idea last time contributed massively to the second wave.
"People queued outside restaurants not keeping physical distance and all for a cheap meal.
"There must be much better ways to help the economy without putting everyone at risk again."
Sarah Farnes said: "No. I think it contributed to the second wave, which led to lockdown. Much as I love going out for dinner we need to be cautious."
Darren Moses wrote: "No. Any social distancing goes by the wayside when it comes to cheap food.
"We will be in same position with numbers rising again by September.
"I'm not saying that was the main cause but Eat Out, summer gatherings and schools all contributed."
Some hospitality workers also spoke out, saying during the scheme they had to put up with some customers being aggressive when asked to keep to social distancing rules.
Amy Roud said: "As a restaurant manager, August was a shocking month to work. Most customers were OK but every day someone kicked off about the wait/having to put a mask on to go to the toilet/the time for their meal to arrive.
"Track and Trace was particularly awful. Someone didn’t want to leave their contact details one time, and when I said all I could offer them was a takeaway in that case, they actually threw a chair at me."
Those in favour included Darren Millen who said: "Hospitality contributed less than 3% of infection rates across the country. "It's time we got back to normal now."
"There was hardly any increase in cases in August." Mark Ezekiel
Denize Halfpenny wrote: "All the eateries I used during and around that scheme were so strict and adhering to every rule.
"Everyone was respectful, distanced, we sanitised hands going in, we used masks, we used one entrance one exit. I never saw a problem.
"(That was) apart from the cities where everyone gathered outside."
Mark Ezekiel said: "It was great for the industry and as long as precautions are taken, it got everyone including myself back in to a habit of eating out again.
"The fact is there was hardly any increase in cases in August or indeed early September, we only saw an increase in late September after the schools went back."
After schools reopened on March 8 the second major stage out of lockdown is today (Monday) with two households or groups of up to six able to meet outdoors,
The next step out of lockdown is due on April 12 when pubs and restaurants can serve food oudoors and then indoors from May 17.
The last main lockdown rules are scheduled to end on June 21.