Small hospitality and leisure businesses in the Liverpool City Region can now apply to access an emergency fund, worth up to £40m.
It is intended to keep businesses in the sector afloat for ‘up to four months', until further assistance can be secured from central government.
Wet-led pubs and bars in Liverpool had to close on Wednesday after the city entered the ‘very high' Tier 3 virus alert level. Restaurants and pubs serving 'substantial meals' are able to stay open, but must contend with a drop in footfall while being unable to access full government support.
The fund aims to help viable businesses keep trading and support those which must temporarily close to top-up staff wages and remain solvent.
In a joint statement the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and leaders of the region's six local authorities criticised the government's job support scheme, which will pay two-thirds of staff wages for business forced to shut by law, as falling short of what was needed.
The group said: "We know business owners and staff are absolutely at breaking point and we will do anything we can to prevent businesses and jobs going to the wall.
"The furlough scheme announced by the chancellor last week falls far short of what our region needs and deserves. If 80% was the right level of support back in March, then it should be in November. Lots of the people affected by these new restrictions will be in low paid, insecure work and it is deeply unfair to expect them to survive on two-thirds of the minimum wage.
"We will continue to fight for a more comprehensive funding package, but in the meantime, where the national government has stepped away, we, as local leaders, will step up."
The aim is that the first round of funding will reach applicants within 10 days of being approved, with subsequent payments phased over the period of the grant.
A ‘grant application window' opened at 10am today (16 October), and will close at 5pm on 30 October. Eligible businesses wishing to apply should visit their own local authority websites for details.