Local business owner, Justin Horton, has warned that his insurance company is 'hanging us out to dry' as the government announced social isolation measures designed to combat the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The prime minister announced a series of extreme measures yesterday to suppress the epidemic as the first case of the virus was confirmed in Penarth.

The policy announcement will trigger an unprecedented change to daily life as the country's quarantine measures are intensified and people are told to avoid all non-essential social movement, including going to public places like pubs, restaurants, and busy shops.

Small independent businesses, which rely upon footfall and have already been affected by the epidemic, will be hit hardest by the social distancing measures.

Waterloo Tea Rooms announced on Facebook yesterday that they would be closing their sites in the interest of public health.

Justin Horton, who owns Funky Monkey, a family-run children's clothes store on Windsor Road, said his insurance company were 'hanging us out to dry', as they refused to cover him for business disruption due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Horton said he had full insurance which covered disruption due to disease outbreaks, but that Covid-19 was not included on the list of diseases. "Rabies is fine though", he said. "So, we're ok if that happens."

Business owners throughout the country have called upon the British government to impose a formal ban on public gatherings so that they have a greater chance of receiving insurance coverage, and to provide greater economic support as they are forced to cease trading.

"Should the government bring in lockdown conditions then clearly our income will drop to zero," said Mr Horton who's income in the last two weeks has declined by 30 percent compared to the same time last year.

"However, we'll still be expected to pay our rent to the landlord; our eight staff salaries; our insurance; and other significant running costs.

"Regrettably, many of the well-loved independent shops, restaurants, cafes, and other businesses will not make it through the crisis," he warned.

Mr Horton orders stock in bulk one year in advance, and the the bill for this year's Spring and Summer selection is due at the end of March.

"We'd had a reasonable year, so committed tens of thousands of pounds in what's called 'forward orders' with our main suppliers," he said.

"The order is then placed with the factories and the goods made ethically.

"We then honour our order commitment and pay for the goods. We'll be due to pay our bill in late March.

"Obviously, this crisis potentially means that we'll struggle to pay for those orders."

Earlier today, the Welsh Government announced a £200 million support package for small businesses.

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100 per cent business rate relief and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.

"This will not be enough on its own to mitigate the massive losses that all town centre businesses will suffer", said Mr Horton.

"We are very reliant on our wonderful customers, many of whom have supported us since we opened five years ago. We offer free deliveries and our online shop remains open 24/7.

"We hope that people will continue to support all Penarth businesses during these critical times."