More than 64 million meals have been enjoyed by diners across the country since the launch of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme, Government said, as the scheme entered its fourth week.

The data also shows that the number of customers at UK restaurants was up 17% compared to the same week in 2019. A total of 87,000 claims have been made by many of the signed-up businesses and there have been over 34 million searches on Eat Out to Help Out’s restaurant finder from 13 million unique users.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Figures continue to show that Brits are backing hospitality … This scheme has reminded us how much we love to dine out, and in doing so, how this is helping to protect the jobs of nearly 2 million people who work in hospitality.”

There are now 84,000 sign-ups from restaurants for the scheme, which closes on 31 August.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme aims to help protect the jobs of the hospitality industry’s 1.8 million employees by encouraging people to safely return to their local restaurants, cafes and pubs where social-distancing rules allow.

Around 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, with 1.4 million workers furloughed – the highest of any sector.

The scheme is part of the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs, announced in July. Other measures announced include cutting VAT for tourism and hospitality by 15%, a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme and an £8.8 billion investment in new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.