The Government is to register Covid-19 as “notifiable" - the formal classification required by many insurance policies - allowing businesses to seek compensation if they are affected by the coronavirus.
The move has been welcomed by UKHospitality, which says the sector is likely to bear the brunt of a downturn in business.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a helpful step forward by the Government and should help offset some of the losses that hospitality businesses will incur due to the Coronavirus.
Tourism and hospitality is likely to be hit as people cancel holidays and our members are already reporting a reduction in hotel bookings.
“Businesses will need to check the terms and conditions of their insurance and make sure their insurance provider has updated their policy to include Covid-19. This is not going to be a remedy for all businesses, but it should help some of those who are already feeling the strain.”
It follows the announcement by prime minister Boris Johnson this week that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be made available from day one when self-isolating, instead of day four.
SSP is £94.25 per week and can be paid for up to 28 weeks. To qualify, a worker must earn at least £118 per week.
The change will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required.
The move comes as the number of cases of coronavirus in England rose to 87.