BUSINESS owners in York and North Yorkshire facing “an economic emergency” have been dealt a fresh package of support measures.

Chefs, landlords and small business operators had warned they faced ruin after the Prime Minister urged people to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and restaurants to tackle the fast growth of the coronavirus pandemic.

With businesses questioning how they would be able to pay staff, suppliers and rents, Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (Tuesday) pledged to “do whatever it takes” to support jobs, incomes and businesses.

He announced "an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans’, on top of the £30bn raft of business support announced in the Budget.

“I am making available an initial £330bn of guarantees. Any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or to purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms. The government will stand behind businesses.”

York restaurant owner Oscar Akgul had described the PM’s advice on Monday as “a disaster”. He said: “Simply asking the public not to go to pubs and restaurants will lead to huge unemployment and closures.”

Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks, from Oldstead, North Yorkshire, took to social media to highlight the anxiety caused.

“There are 3,000,000 hospitality workers waiting to see how you are going to support our industry Boris Johnson,” he tweeted. “Your statement was ill conceived and has left the people that you serve vulnerable and scared.

“You have told our guests not to come but without your support have left us with no option but to continue trading.”

York Retail Forum chairman Phil Pinder agreed: “You can’t just say don’t go into restaurants and bars. You need to close them so people can claim on their insurance.”

Recognising the impact on the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, Mr Sunak said yesterday: “For those businesses which do have a policy for insurance which covers pandemics the government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against those policies.”

For businesses without cover, he said: “We will need to do more”.

Support includes a business rates holiday to all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, irrespective of their rateable value, for 12 months .

Those with a rateable value of below £51,000 can also get a cash grant of £25,000.

Mr Sunak also said he would hold talks with trade unions and business groups to develop further support.

Phil Pinder, who admitted he had borrowed more money to get through the crisis, welcomed the new measures: “York is an independent hotspot for small businesses. The cash grants could be the difference between laying off staff and keeping them on in these difficult times. I can even see some businesses wanting to expand their way out of this and invest.”

Scrapping business rates for more businesses was also “great news and taking steps to save the high street”, he said.