HAMPSHIRE theme park, Paultons Park will close this evening until further notice -and its four-acre expansion has been postponed.

The popular children's theme park, based in Romey, announced that due to the government's advice to practise social distancing because of the coronavirus outbreak, the park will close this evening at 5pm and will remain closed until further notice.

According to the theme park management, this is "not a decision that's been made easily" but the health of guests and staff members is the number one priority.

A Paultons Park spokesperson said: "In response to the developing situation surrounding coronavirus and the most recent advice from the government, we are very sorry to say that Paultons Park will close from 5pm on Friday March 20 until further notice.

"This is not a decision that has been made easily having already implemented many additional measures to protect both our guests, staff and suppliers. However, we now feel this is the only and correct course of action available to us in order to limit social interaction in line with the clear recommendations laid out by the Prime Minister.

"We know this is disappointing news, particularly to those who have planned a visit, but as a family business, the health and wellbeing of our guests and staff is and always has been our top priority, and we hope you understand and support us in this decision."

As part of this closure, the four-acre park expansion that was due to open in May has also been postponed.

The Tornado Springs expansion, set to bring another eight rides and attractions to the park has been put on hold.

After being unveiled in June 2019, the rides are themed around a Midwest desert town in 1950's America, with the "Storm Chaser" rollercoaster -a free-spinning ride taking carriages to a height of 20 metres above ground- set to be the only ride of its kind in the UK.

It is not yet known when this expansion will officially open after its launch was postponed.

Anyone who has purchased advanced online tickets can use them to visit the park until November 2, and if they can't make it before the expiry date, the tickets can be upgraded to the 2021 season on arrival at the park next year.

While season tickets will be valid once the park re-opens and further information will be provided at a later date.

If you have booked a "Paultons Official Short Break" between March 19 and April 24, you will be contacted to cancel your booking and receive a refund, or a voucher to book at a later date.