VISITOR facilities in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park will remain closed this weekend - despite a further easing of Scotland's lockdown restrictions.

However, bosses have confirmed that plans to re-open car parks and toilet facilities are under way and they are hopeful of being able to do so in phase three of the country's route map out of the coronavirus crisis.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reiterated the advice to avoid unnecessary travel and the recommendation to remain within five miles of your home address where possible.

READ MORE: Fury as day-trippers continue flouting rules by travelling to Loch Lomond beauty spots

Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, said the national guidance on staying away from beauty spots is not changing yet.

He said: “I share everyone’s relief that Scotland is seeing significant progress on reducing the spread of infection and that we can now move to phase two.

"However, I am also very conscious that this is still a pandemic and we all have a vital role to play in moving out of lockdown safely together.

“As frustrating as it may be, travelling to other areas, especially places like popular areas of the National Park where lots of other people are likely to be, still risks spreading or catching the infection.

“All National Park facilities, including car parks and toilets, remain closed and we’re continuing to ask people not to visit unnecessarily.

READ MORE: Park authority says it 'did all it could' to tackle Loch Lomond litter louts

“As well as facilities being closed, a number of other measures, including road closures, temporary traffic orders blocking irresponsible parking and temporary speed limits are also still in place at key areas around the National Park."

Residents in Arrochar and Luss reported concerns over tourist traffic and vehicles clogging up key roads in areas within the National Park boundary earlier this month and Mr Watson said park bosses are working with Police Scotland and local authorities to manage these problems.

“We are continuing our ranger patrols on both land and Loch Lomond," he said.

“Those who do live close enough to access the National Park for outdoor recreation are reminded to be mindful of these closures and measures and to also make sure that when they are out in the National Park that respect it and take their litter home with them.

READ MORE: First Minister issues travel warning as visitors flock to Loch Lomond in spite of 'stay away' pleas

“While we are not immediately opening facilities we are taking steps to plan for re-opening in line with the stages outlined by the Scottish Government for business and tourism.

“We have been carrying out site clean-ups, safety checks and maintenance work as well as detailed risk assessments in order to inform plans for how facilities can operate safely when they do re-open.

“This is complex and we take our responsibility for the safety of our staff and those using our services extremely seriously.

"We will not open a site or facility until we are confident that we have in place the appropriate procedures to keep people safe.

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“Our initial priority will be to prepare for the re-opening of car parks and toilets as these are the facilities that support the majority of visitors and a wide range of activities.

“When these facilities do open, they will not operate as they did before with reduced capacity and safety measures in place."

Mr Watson added: “Following that we will look to open up further facilities around the National Park in phase three.

“This includes facilities such as the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway and our campsites and camping permit areas, which are used for more specific activities and need bespoke procedures in place to operate safely in line with public health guidance.

READ MORE: 'Do NOT travel to Loch Lomond this weekend', warn national park officials

“I would also remind people that the Loch Lomond Bye-laws and Camping Management Bye-laws are still in effect.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners in local authorities and Forestry and Land Scotland to coordinate plans for re-opening and share information with local communities and interest groups.

"We will also continue to share information with the public at each stage on our website.”

Under phase two of the Scottish Government's directive, which came into effect today (Friday), those who have been shielding are now able to go outdoors for exercise, while people are now allowed to meet up with friends or family from two different households at the same time.

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