THE chief executive of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has urged people not to visit after huge crowds descended on the area on Saturday – in defiance of pleas on 'social distancing'.

Balloch, Luss and Callander were all reported to be busy amid sunny spring weather on March 21, despite government instructions to the public not to undertake non-essential travel.

Park chief executive Gordon Watson said on Sunday morning: “Yesterday, like many areas of Scotland, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park saw a huge volume of visitors, particularly in towns and villages.

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"This included shops and cafes being overwhelmed and people clearly disregarding the national guidance on social distancing and essential travel.

“The risks of spreading the virus in the countryside are the same as in cities and towns. In addition, local food supplies and health services needed for residents cannot cope with these extra pressures.

"We are urging people not to travel to the National Park unnecessarily. Please stay home and help stop the spread of Covid-19."

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Mr Watson said the National Park Authority had decided to close all its visitor facilities to discourage people from coming to the area.

“While most of our buildings and facilities had closed to the public," he continued, "we had kept some remaining facilities open for people to use if they were using the National Park responsibly in line with the advice on not travelling far and keeping away from others.

"However this weekend has shown that people are not following that guidance and putting themselves and others at risk.

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“We are now moving to close all visitor facilities, including car parks, toilets, camping and motorhome sites and our slipway, to discourage any further travel or overnight visits to the National Park at this time."

“We know that the weather is good and this is an extremely difficult time but we have to do what is best for everyone.

“The National Park will still be here when all this is over and in the meantime we will find ways for those who can’t get outside into the National Park to still feel connected to this special place. If you do need a breath of fresh air please stay close to home.”

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