HERE’S a sight you never see – empty spaces in the County Hall car park at Dorchester at the start of the week.

The staff car park is usually full, although workers have to pay for parking there, with those who do not have a permit usually finding all day free parking in residential streets throughout the town.

This week there is none of that – illustrating just how the coronavirus restrictions are having an effect. Roads normally full with parked cars from 7.30am onwards are now empty.

Many staff based at Dorset Council in Dorchester, and employed by the authority elsewhere, are now working from home although many of those who work for social services in either adult’s or children’s services are still maintaining visits to families and vulnerable adults with other customer-facing staff also operating as normal.

Dorset Council, like other organisations, also has staff which are self-isolating because they fear they may have the virus, or have, potentially, been in contact with others who may be infected.

The council has been unable to supply any figures, but anecdotally, is thought to be running at around 5 per cent of the workforce.

In North Square the Dorchester Town Council offices are also closed to visitors, although staff are still working and can be contacted by phone or email.  Ground staff in parks, cemeteries and gardens are working as normal.

Elsewhere in Dorchester there is an unusual quiet with the majority of shops now closed for the foreseeable future and only a small number of people visiting the handful of stores which remain open, or walking about on the street. In an hour the most people seen on a bus could be counted on one hand.

Even the town’s skate park, usually teeming when the schools are out, only had a handful of youngsters there by late morning and even they appeared to be keeping a safe distance from each other. At Maumbury Rings, opposite, an elderly couple were taking a stroll around the ramparts, the only people there apart from a solitary dog walker.

Normality may eventually be resumed - but not for a whil