DINERS tucked into discounted meals at food outlets across the district on Monday as the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was rolled out.

Throughout August, customers will receive a 50 per cent discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, when they choose to eat at participating food outlets, which include pubs, cafes, and coffee shops.

The discounts are for food or non-alcoholic drinks, and apply on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, until August 31.

While they are for ‘eat-in’ venues, diners are allowed to take advantage of outdoor dining areas, such as beer gardens and courtyards.

The Courant spoke to diners and proprietors of participating outlets in Hexham on Monday.

Angela Wilson, owner of the Small World Cafe, in Hexham’s Market Place, said: “A real positive is that we have been busy, and people are eating food both inside, and at our oudtdoor tables.

“I still think word is spreading about the scheme. Some people weren’t aware of it until I told them. I think confidence is slowly growing and we can see that people are now dining out again.”

Christine Williams and Holly Reed were among the customers enjoying a morning coffee in the sun.

Christine said: “I am happy to eat out, but for the moment I feel more comfortable sitting outside in the fresh air.”

Joao Correia, owner of Bunters Coffee Shop, on Hallgate, said: “There’s been a lot of publicity surrounding the scheme, but it’s still early days. I think it’s a good scheme - a great way for people to show their support for businesses, and I’m sure more people will take advantage of it over the coming days and weeks.”

Both outlets have a reduced seating plan to accommodate Covid-19 restrictions.

Clair Caris and her daughter Isabelle were looking forward to spending lunchtime outdoors in Hexham.

“With the sun out it will be lovely,” said Clair. “I think for us, it’s a bit too soon to dine indoors, but we’re certainly prepared to sit at a table outside.”