URGENT action and open communication is essential to safeguard local businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis which have been forced to 'rely on rumour' to plan.

That was the message of local business leaders following the Prime Minister's announcement of a three-tier system of local alert levels for England.

York remains in the the lowest 'Medium Alert' level of coronavirus restrictions.

Under the new arrangements, the medium alert level will cover most of England and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.

Rates of infection in York have risen recently, with 200.36 cases per 100,000 people on October 9.

Harrogate's NHS Nightingale hospital was today asked to prepare to take patients as Government advisers highlighted the rising admissions, with more elderly people needing urgent treatment for Covid.

“Now clear rules are in place, good, open communication is essential," urged Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire & Humber Regional Director.

Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the NP11, said he was 'deeply concerned by the surge in Covid-19 cases throughout the North' and the subsequent impact on the region's health and economy.

“The North has already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with a number of our local authorities now placed into the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ risk areas.

"Whilst we support restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus, these must be kept to a minimum and supported with clear scientific data and local authority assistance from Government.

“Many businesses throughout the North, particularly those in hospitality, have been left with an uncertain future by today’s announcement.

"As we head into what will be a challenging winter, we need urgent, co-ordinated, and far-reaching action to safeguard our communities, protect our local economies, and prevent a devastating levelling down effect.

“The North will be integral to the future economic recovery and prosperity of the nation. 

"However, without financial support and collaboration with local authorities, central government risks its levelling-up commitment. This will be detrimental to our region and the UK.”

Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire & Humber Regional Director, said: “Business supports the simplification of COVID rules with three tiers of restrictions.

"But this remains very tough news for thousands of firms that have done so much to keep customers and employees safe.

“Now clear rules are in place, good, open communication is essential.

"Businesses in the worst-affected areas have too often had to plan on rumour or react last minute. This can be solved with more collaboration between business, central and local governments. Restoring a sense of national unity is critical for tackling the virus.

“To maintain confidence and compliance, Government must show more of its evidence base for new restrictions. And to protect jobs, it should keep financial support under review and in lockstep with the severity of the restrictions.

“Ultimately, mass rapid testing must really ramp up if we’re to prevent a second wave from further harming economic growth.”

MPs will debate and vote on the measures on Tuesday and the new tiered system will come into effect on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister said talks were continuing with local leaders in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber about the approach there and the support available if they are placed in the third tier.

Mr Johnson defended the approach adopted by the Government in attempting to keep much of the economy open while curbing the spread of the virus.