The UK’s largest holiday park has announced the closure of its parks to holiday makers from today (Sunday) until May 1 - and staff will receive 100 per cent pay.

Parkdean Resorts, which has sites in West Bay and Warmwell, previously announced on March 21 the closure of its leisure facilities, bars and restaurants following Government instruction and that all activities, sport and entertainment would cease.

Steve Richards, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Parkdean Resorts has 67 parks across the UK and our company plays a big role in local communities, whether it be through investment, tourism or employment. As such, we have been in conversation with community leaders, customers and our people, and have decided to delay the launch of the season. We are very sorry to the many holiday makers who were hoping to spend their Easter break with us, but I hope they understand why.

“We will continually and closely review the Government’s guidance and hope to welcome people on park from 1 May.

“As our parks are based in areas that rely on tourism, I would therefore like to reassure anyone working for Parkdean Resorts, and the communities they live in, that no one will be made redundant as a result of coronavirus, and we will be paying 100 per cent salary.

“As Parkdean Resorts was gearing up for the Easter holidays, we have a significant amount of perishable food on park which will now be donated to local community food banks.”

The full site closure means that:

• Parkdean Resorts will be offering all holiday makers who had booked to stay at its parks during this time a full refund, or they have the option to roll their booking, with a credit voucher worth 120 per cent of the original booking.

• All facilities and all touring and camping provision is cancelled until May 1.

• Access to parks will be denied to third parties and controlled as normal by our security teams.

West Dorset Leisure, which has parks in Eype, Burton Bradstock, Seatown and Owermoigne, has stopped taking bookings and has closed the bar, restaurant and leisure facilities at Highlands End Holiday Park in Eype,

A spokesman said: "We are no longer taking bookings and we are speaking to our customers due to arrive between now and early April as soon as possible. These are unprecedented times and we all have a responsibility to consider not just ourselves but the people in the local community, on our parks and in the UK.

"We have closed Martin’s Bar & Restaurant, the Little Fire Station Soft Play and the Leisure Club at Highlands End Holiday Park and the park shops and the receptions are by phone contact only.

"If you have a holiday booked with us, please stay away and do not telephone us – we do not have the staff available to answer the calls. We will contact you over the next few weeks depending on the dates of your booking and the unfolding crisis.

"With regard to our private owners on the parks, Martin [the owner] sent the personal email asking them to co-operate and not to travel to Dorset or visit their caravan. We are asking holiday home owners not to stay in their caravan.

"We anticipate that owners who visited for the weekend and travelled before the PM’s Friday briefing will be returning home today or Monday.

"With regard to comments on social media about holiday parks, we are encouraging the Government to give some guidance on the closure of parks.

"It is not so straightforward as pubs and restaurants and having seen some of the party atmosphere in local pubs on Friday evening and the crowds in local tourist locations yesterday, we would urge you all to take more care and, in particular, be tolerant to all circumstances which are not necessarily perfect – it takes time to bring a whole country to an economic and social closedown as demonstrated in the supermarkets over the last 48 hours.

"We are all making and implementing decisions which were unimaginable a few weeks ago."