DORSET Chamber has suspended all its events but pledged to support business through the “unprecedented” coronavirus crisis.

Its decision came as the pandemic continued to batter British businesses, with the FTSE index of the top 100 companies falling to its lowest level since the financial crash amid warnings of a recession.

The chamber, which normally maintains a busy schedule of training and networking events, said it was calling off everything in the diary until the end of April.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a video posted on LinkedIn: “After great consideration, I’m really sorry to say that we think it’s the most sensible thing to do to suspend our events from now up until the end of April.

“It’s regrettable but it’s the right thing to do and I’m sure you’ll understand that.

“We’re also going to be pushing the government to support small businesses.

“We realise the implications for small businesses are huge. If you’re mandated to shut down, where is your income? So I’m talking to the other chambers of commerce and other business groups and we’re going to be pushing the government as hard as we can for support for small businesses.”

He said the crisis facing business was “unprecedented”.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. I’d really encourage small business owners and large businesses to come together, work together and support each other wherever we can,” he said.

“Certainly Dorset Chamber is going to be doing all it can to support the local business community.”

As stock markets plummeted and the aviation industry announced severe cutbacks yesterday, the new governor of Bank of England vowed to take “prompt action again” to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

In his first day in the job, Andrew Bailey said the bank was in discussions with epidemiologists to better understand how long the virus was likely to hit businesses.

Most economists agree the worldwide economic fallout is likely to be extreme, with forecasts for a recession already made.

Yesterday also saw shares in the owner of Primark plunge after it reported on the effects of the pandemic.

Associated British Foods said Primark had been forced to close stores which accounted for nearly a third of its sales as European governments shut down high streets.