Bus services in Weymouth, Portland and west Dorset are being withdrawn or reduced as a result of the coronavirus.

From today, operator First Wessex will stop services with the exception of the number 1 Weymouth-Portland service; the number 2 Littlemoor bus, the number 10 Dorchester bus, plus the Jurassic Coaster X53 between Bridport, Lyme Regis and Axminster. All will operate on a reduced service.

Services 1, 2 and 10 will operate to a Sunday timetable daily, with additional journeys during peak times to help key workers, health service and emergency service workers get to and from their places of work, and to help those without a car can still collect medical prescriptions or do essential shopping.

The announcement comes after the Government outlined strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, including advice that people should leave home only to exercise once a day, travel to and from work where absolutely necessary, shop for essential items, and to fulfil any medical or care needs.

However it will leave thousands of homes in areas including Westham, Chickerell, Lanehouse and Preston without a bus service.

First Wessex' managing director Marc Reddy said everything is being done to support vital key workers.

Said Mr Reddy: “With much of the UK effectively ordered to stay at home for at least the next few weeks, we have made the decision to move to a Sunday timetable to support those who still need to get to and from work and get out to shops and pharmacies, whilst fulfilling our own role as vital key workers during this time of national crisis."

He added: “Just a few weeks ago it was almost inconceivable that these restrictions would be in place, which only underlines what a challenging, dynamic and rapidly evolving situation the UK faces, and which First Wessex is monitoring and responding to day-by-day, hour-by-hour.

“Rest assured everything is being done to keep key workers mobile as the nation comes together to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

Customers are being urged to switch to contactless payments or purchase tickets via First's mobile app to help limit the spread of the virus and keep drivers safe – although cash will be accepted.

Marc Reddy added: “Regular customers can be assured we will endeavour to get more frequent services back up and running as soon as the Government decides it is safe to do so.

“Please bear with us as given the fast-changing nature of the situation it will be difficult to keep all our communication channels updated with the latest information.”

At a glance: changes to First Wessex bus services from Sunday March 29

* Services 1, 2 and 10 to operate a Sunday service daily plus additional journeys during peak times

* Jurassic Coaster X53 between Bridport, Lyme Regis and Axminster will operate a limited service daily

* No other services will operate

* Customers are advised to check the First Wessex website for up-to-date timetable information before travelling

* Concessionary Travel Cards can now be used before 9.30am every day of the week

* Customers are encouraged to pay with contactless or using the First Bus app

* Service information in the First Bus app may not reflect updated timetables immediately so customers are advised to check the website: www.firstgroup.com/wessex-dorset-south-somerset/news-and-service-updates/coronavirus-covid19-service-information for the most up-to-date service information, travel advice and information about coronavirus