Shares in Stagecoach were down nearly five per cent in early trading after the Scottish transport giant said its UK bus operation continues to be affected by the “substantial fall” in demand arising from the pandemic, and warned further restrictions to suppress infection rates “may discourage public transport use in the short-term.”

The Perth-based company said its outlook for the year to May 2021 is unchanged from July “recognising that the continuing uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation and the UK’s recovery makes it difficult to reliably predict financial performance”.

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Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “While the situation remains fluid, we have made progress in the restoration of our networks to close to pre-Covid levels and in growing passenger volumes safely within the current restricted environment.”

He added: “The safety and well-being of customers and our people remains our absolute priority as we continue to navigate the uncertainty from Covid-19.”

It said while Bus Services Support Grant Restart payments are continuing, with an eight week notice period, the business expects to continue to be able to “avoid significant operating losses”.

Shares closed down 2.6% at 40.9p.