Luxury boat builder Sunseeker International is suspending work for the “vast majority” of its staff.

The company said its Portland and Poole factories would be halting production until the end of April.

It said it was offering support to NHS supply companies during the shutdown.

Last week, the company sent 200 staff home on unpaid leave in an effort to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Its latest move came after the government introduced its wide-ranging curb on people’s movements and said everyone should work from home if possible.

A statement from Sunseeker said: “Following the Prime Minister’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) update (on Monday), Sunseeker International is temporarily suspending production until the end of April for the vast majority of employees. Some safety-critical and continuity roles will remain but at a very low level.

“Our actions will ensure that we are in a strong position to resume our substantial new model development programme, manufacturing and deliveries as soon as possible.

“We would like to thank all our staff for their continued and unwavering support during these times. Our gratitude also extends to our suppliers, dealers globally and our loyal customers, keen to get back on the water soon.

“In the interim, the company is working with local NHS supply companies to offer its teams’ support, subject to the guidelines in place.”

Before Sunseeker's announcement, it appeared to be 'business as usual' for workers at Sunseeker's manufacturing site at Osprey Quay on Portland, where staff were being told to continue coming into work.

An anonymous source said: "I'm baffled. I'm not sure how yacht building is by any means essential. They have even had the cheek to tell staff that it is business as normal except for closing the canteen so the two metre rule can be enforced at break times."

Bryan Jones, marketing manager at Sunseeker, said earlier on Tuesday the factory was continuing to operate and that staff were required to come in.

"We are a manufacturing business – they can't build boats from home," he said.

Mr Jones declined to comment on whether there were concerns for the health of workers, but asked the Echo to put questions in writing, to which the company did not respond.

*Additional reporting by Ellie Maslin