FERRY passengers can no longer pre-book journeys for the next four months while hot food will not be served on board vessels in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

CalMac has announced that it will stop taking new bookings on all of its services with a travel date before July 15, due to the outbreak.

All fresh hot food will stop being served from Friday in a bid to free up staff to crew the vessels.

The news comes as other public transport operators have started cutting services due to the coronavirus outbreak – with train, coach and bus frequencies being slashed.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Airport has been forced to close some areas as it predicts “zero or close to zero passenger demand” during the pandemic.

The decision to halt advance booking for four months by CalMac reflects the Scottish Government’s advised period of disruption set to take place as the country grapples with the pandemic.

Bookings that have already been made up to July 15 will be honoured where services are running.

READ MORE: Breakdowns of CalMac ferries up by a third last year

Priority will continue to be given to emergency services and medical emergencies.

 Catering services on board will also be reduced to offer tea, coffee and pre-packaged foods only. Bottled and packaged drinks and snacks will also continue to be offered to passengers.

 Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: “The Covid-19 outbreak is creating an ever-changing landscape not just for CalMac but for all transport operators and indeed all businesses.

 “Whilst we are currently able to continue operating our normal timetabled service, we have to plan for the impact of the virus on our staff on vessels, ports and support services. It has been prudent, therefore, to put in place an immediate stop on customers being able to book services in advance.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: bus and rail services to be cut amid passenger slump

He added: “We will effectively be operating a turn up and go service on all of our routes. This will reflect arrangements we already have in place permanently in a number of locations across the network, such as Wemyss Bay and Rothesay.

 “We also know how popular our food service is on board some of our routes, but we need to free up as many staff as possible to help with cleaning and other on-board duties.

“We are seeing a drop in the amount of food purchased at this time in any case, so this decision makes sense.

 “As the situation is changing on a daily basis, we will keep this situation under constant review.”

ScotRail has also withdrawn all onboard catering from its services.

The UK’s largest operator of scheduled coach services, National Express, said it will reduce its capacity by 80 per cent.

This means it will be running the equivalent of a Christmas Day timetable every day.

The firm’s bus networks - which operate across the West Midlands and urban services in Coventry and Dundee - have been cut to a typical Sunday service.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Airport to partially close building amid 'zero' demand

This amounts to the removal of around 40 per cent of its bus mileage.

Scottish bus operator, McGill’s, has also halved its timetable.

In a statement, the company said: “We understand that over the coming weeks, it is important that our communities have access to the vital public service our company provides.

“Therefore, from Monday 23 March, we will be operating emergency timetables.

“Almost all services will continue to operate, most at half their normal frequency.”

Edinburgh-based Lothian Buses intends to reduce the frequency of its services in response to the coronavirus outbreak.in a bid to “ensure we can continue to provide vital links across the city for those who rely on our services”.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs on Wednesday that “a reduced level of service from ScotRail is being planned urgently”.

He added that initial data from concessionary bus travel schemes had shown a drop of around 20 per cent since the start of the week.

Rail services across England are also being scaled back including on Northern Trains, South West Railway and Great Western Railway.

Edinburgh Airport is set to open talks with staff on cutting at least 100 jobs from the 750 people directly employed by the organisation.

Flights still taking place are expected to include cargo, mail, medical and possibly repatriation.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “This is an unprecedented time not only for the aviation industry but for everyone as we all do what we can to ensure the health of ourselves and of those around us.

“For us, that includes the health of our airport. Our plan is based on keeping the airport open throughout and being there for those people who are still travelling and those staff members who are making that travel possible.

“We’re in a situation which is ever changing and as more countries enforce travel bans or special measures, then it stands to reason that airlines will feel that impact and airports then feel that pain too.

“Unfortunately, that is happening now and we are trying to mitigate as best as we can and steer the airport through this situation in preparation for what comes next - and that is the biggest unknown in all of this.”

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs on Tuesday that rail companies, as well as bus firms and airlines, could be temporarily nationalised to help them through the coronavirus outbreak.

He said good organisations “shouldn’t be going bust” as a result of problems caused by the spread of Covid-19.