NORTH-East businessman Duncan Bannatyne says the shutdown of leisure facilities could cost him £30m.

The Darlington-based entrepreneur told Sky News that about 2,600 of his staff were currently on furlough, with about 400 people still working.

He has estimated if the Bannatyne Group is closed for four months, it could cost about £30m and some loss-making clubs will not reopen.

The company is paying staff their full salary in March but Mr Bannatyne said he did not think it would be possible in April and May.

He praised the Royal Bank of Scotland, which has agreed a loan.

But he added not all businesses would be able to do that and would not be able to take on additional debt by delaying rent and VAT payments.

He said: Some will be reluctant to do that (take on more debt) and some won't be able to do that. Whatever the chancellor says some banks will not fund small businesses if they are the most at risk."

When asked about when restrictions should be lifted, he added: "I don't think it's really up to businessmen to say that. It's up to the medical profession and the experts and the scientists. The last thing we want is to open and then close again because they've opened too early."