• Additional reporting by Joanna Davis & Bradley White


People are being urged to look out for one another amid the coronavirus emergency.

As community services and facilities shut down and many residents, particularly the elderly, are forced to stay indoors with little social contact, people are being asked to look out for their neighbours while respecting social distancing guidelines and staying safe themselves.

Strict new curbs on life in the country were announced last night, with people ordered to stay home and to only go out for shopping for basic goods, daily exercise, medical needs and to travel to work.

Social gatherings are banned and shops selling non-essential goods have to close.

Emergency plans are being activated to ensure vulnerable people are supported and organisations have been mobilised to respond to the impact of the outbreak.

The Echo has reported efforts by communities and individuals who are linking up and helping others. We support these efforts and continue to provide people with information in these unprecedented times. Keep updated at www.dorsetecho.co.uk

Weymouth Mayor Graham Winter has sent a message of support to residents to 'look after themselves' during the coronavirus crisis.

He said: "I would also encourage residents to be aware of older neighbours. We're seeing lots of random acts of kindness going on throughout the town and would encourage people to help while they can.

"I'm also saying to people, 'please do not panic buy, there's enough for everybody providing people don't panic.' And if anyone can spare anything for the foodbank it will be appreciated."

Dorchester councillor David Taylor added: "It’s important for communities to stay together through this, use the internet to keep in touch with family and friends. Help your neighbours whenever you can but make sure to keep your distance. There’s nothing wrong with talking through a window or letterbox as long as you don’t go inside.

"Don’t panic, safeguard yourself and stay safe."

The call to help comes as community links are disrupted as some charitable and voluntary organisations temporarily stop their services and close centres.

People rely on such groups for social contact and for providing activities and information.

Among the facilities to have shut its doors temporarily is the Park Community Centre in Weymouth run by the Waterside Weymouth Community Forum. The centre provide a range of activities and is also an important meeting place.

Chairman John Morse admitted it was 'sad' to close the centre and stop the groups but that it had to be done amid the current crisis.

He said: "It is a social hub and it's where many people come together. For some people, it's the only contact they have.

"We'll be doing what we can to keep in touch with people and hopefully we'll be back up and running again soon."