Holiday parks across west Dorset have closed for the foreseeable future.

West Dorset Leisure, which has sites in Eype, Burton Bradstock and Seatown, stopped taking bookings last week and advised holiday home owners not to travel, as well as closing its leisure facilities at Highlands End Holiday Park.

Managing director Martin Cox said: “This is the most difficult time Vanessa and I have faced during our 35 years managing the holiday parks and the closure is very justified but very emotionally stressful when we are so close to our team, customers and local suppliers and services. The business and parks are our life and it is not easy in such unprecedented times.

“We currently have a 12-week plan to protect all key and full-time members of staff and at least 12 staff will be actively working within the guidance of social distancing to maintain the parks and grounds. The Government 80 per cent staff retention scheme helps us in this respect and we are planning for the period beyond the 12 weeks.

“Sadly, we are actively postponing or cancelling holiday bookings and we have taken this up to the end of April and, when we are ready, we will roll this forward to May. Our private holiday home owners, many of who have a strong link with Bridport over many years, left for home over the weekend when it was clear that they should not be here and the last thing they want to be is a burden in our local NHS services.

“To conclude, the parks are now closed and, along with the majority of the community, we will be looking to see if our help is required.”

Parkdean Resorts also announced its parks, including the one in West Bay,would be closed to holidaymakers until May 1.

Steve Richards, chief executive officer, said: “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.”

Freshwater Beach Holiday Park in Burton Bradstock has also closed.