Thousands of pubs and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost in the very short term unless pubs are provided with cash and liquidity, the British Beer & Pub Association has warned.

The BBPA said the Government guidance advising people avoid pubs failed to provide advice or clarity on how the industry should respond.

“This is unhelpful in the extreme,” CEO Emma McClarkin wrote in an open letter to the PM.

Saying the announcement was “creating panic” in the sector, she wrote: “We urgently require more clarity from the Government. The Government’s advice without the required clear directive impacts on both the safety of the general public and all employees.

“Forced pub closures without a meaningful support package will have a catastrophic financial and social impact.”

The organisation has called on the Government to the following action:

· The cancellation of all business rates payments for a period of six months, as well as all HMRC tax payments, including PAYE, VAT and corporation tax for pubs/hospitality businesses

· Cancellation of beer duty payments for a period of six months

· Ensure banks are encouraged to extend credit lines and favourable-terms loan payment holidays to keep businesses afloat/pay wages

· Put in place a temporary redundancy scheme in which, as in the Danish system, the Government commits to supporting 75% of the wages of those made redundant for a defined period

· In the medium term, explore the viability of a substantial VAT cut for a period of time in order to drive trade back to the hospitality sector

· Postponement of the planned National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage increase due in April in order to ease pressure on cash-flows