Sunak, the UK’s representative, supports the government’s management of the pandemic and the program for restaurants.
On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the way Britain has managed the COVID-19 crisis. He stated that he disagreed with claims made during an inquiry that the government was disorganized and stated that his hospitality program had been approved at the time.
A study is being conducted on the actions taken by Britain in response to the pandemic, which resulted in the deaths of over 230,000 individuals in the nation. Testimonies have revealed that the government under then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson was plagued by internal conflicts and lack of competence, leading to indecisiveness.
Sunak, a relatively obscure politician at the time, was appointed as the finance minister just before the pandemic hit. He displayed confidence as he implemented massive financial aid measures to sustain businesses and people’s livelihoods.
He has faced criticism from other witnesses during the investigation for his subsidized meal program, known as “Eat out to help out,” which encouraged individuals to dine at restaurants and pubs in August 2020.
There has been speculation among scientists about the possibility that Sunak’s policy could have played a role in the recent spike in infections. However, Sunak stated that in the month leading up to the implementation of the scheme, no objections were raised by scientists or other ministers during meetings.
He stated that the “Eat out to help out” initiative adhered to the safety protocols for the reopening of the hospitality industry in July, which is why the policy was implemented.
Sunak stated that his main focus was safeguarding the employment of millions of individuals, especially those in the hospitality sector, during the inquiry.
Scientists and officials have also given evidence at the inquiry, raising concerns about whether Sunak placed more importance on the economy than public health. This is due to the fact that economic output decreased by 10% in 2020.
On Monday, during the inquiry, he expressed his sincere apologies to those who have lost loved ones. He also stated that he was present with the intention of learning how the government can improve in handling future pandemics.
However, he agreed with Johnson in stating that the presence of ongoing debates should not be viewed as a negative aspect.
There was intense discussion surrounding these critical choices, as they had major implications for millions of individuals in various aspects such as healthcare, education, economy, and society, with long-lasting effects.
According to him, these were monumental choices that may not have been made by any prime minister in recent history, or possibly ever before.
In October 2022, Sunak assumed the role of prime minister following the departure of Johnson and his replacement Liz Truss due to external pressures.