CITY-wide testing should be the focus for getting York back on its feet as it emerges from the coronavirus crisis, say city and business leaders.

Expert speakers at York Business Week's conference on Monday were united in their response when asked to name the top priority for York to accelerate its recovery - mass testing in the city.

This would enable businesses to open, give people confidence to come back into the city and increase footfall, said Beckie Hart, regional director, Yorkshire & the Humber, Confederation of British Industry.

Jon Geldart, director general, Institute of Directors, said it was ‘definitely a way forward’. “It isn’t about setting up road blocks on the A64 but it is about being able to be really clear that York is safe, the population is safe. You can go from a large sample size and then isolate those in that sample who have tested positive and go down into much more specificity.

“The intelligent use of mass testing will allow us to be able to be more accurate in the way we might have to have isolation at a small level, even within the city. This might sound draconian but it is very effective.”

Cllr Keith Aspden, council leader, said: "Until test and trace works we are going to continue to have this blunt instrument of national tiers or the lockdown we are in now which doesn’t given that long-term certainty to business.

“You need a test and trace system that has the capacity and speed but also creates the data that enables local public health teams to protect the health of their local population. Over recent weeks it’s been like having our directors of public health almost blind trying to protect the local population in terms of the way the system has been working.

"We have now got a drive-through testing site in York and a walk-in site and we are now working, following lobbying, with the Government, to get a second walk-in testing site in the west of the city. It needs to go further to give the confidence and resilience needed for business. It is certainly something we will, as council leaders I’m sure, continue to talk about with Government: trust local public health teams and give us tools to be able to do that.”