The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector given the significant role it has in supporting businesses in the current situation.
However, on 17 March, following a roundtable with the insurance industry, the Chancellor made it clear that the Government’s social distancing instructions of 16 March would be treated the same as government-ordered closure for insurance purposes (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellor-of-the-exchequer-rishi-sunak-on-covid19-response). As long as all other terms of the policies are met, pubs and restaurants should therefore be able to make a claim for the period between 16 and 20 March.
It is important to note that most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers losses from pandemics and unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. Some policies cover losses arising from any disease classed as notifiable by the government, however, most policies only cover a specific list of notifiable diseases. The terms of a policy cannot be changed retrospectively.
The Government recognises that businesses who do not have appropriate insurance cover will require support from elsewhere. As such, businesses should explore the full package of support set out by the Chancellor, which includes measures such as business rates holidays, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and wage support.