The Scottish Tourism secretary has said he is "furious" at the "irresponsible behaviour" of people travelling to the Highlands and Islands amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Scottish Government is currently in talks with ferry operator CalMac to establish measures preventing a rush of people attempting to self-isolate or social distance in the Scottish islands. 

People with second homes and campervans have been reportedly travelling to the area in recent days, while the Daily Mail came under fire for recommending the Highlands as a great retreat.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Daily Mail told to 'f*** off' for promoting Highland travel

Fergus Ewing said: “l am furious at the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some people travelling to the Highland and Islands. This has to stop now. Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities full stop. They are endangering lives. Do not travel.

“Panic buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities.

The National: CalMac ferry

“The Scottish Government's advice is that essential travel only should be undertaken. We have been in touch with CalMac and industry leaders to discuss what further measures may be required to deal with this issue.”

Meanwhile, CalMac has announced that it will stop all onboard food and drink and retail offerings on all routes to prevent the spread of the virus. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: SNP MP issues scary warning against island holidays

It had this week stopped providing hot fresh food onboard but has now gone a stage further. All restaurants, coffee cabins, bars and shops on board the ferries will now close with immediate effect. It also includes the coffee shop at Ardrossan port.

Managing director Robbie Drummond said: “The safety and health of our staff and customers is our absolute top priority and this move to stop having people queuing for food and drink and handing over foodstuffs is designed to protect them.

“We know that our food and drink offering onboard is very popular and can be a vital part of the journey for many. However, in light of global events, there is no way we can justify continuing this and potentially putting the safety of passengers and staff at risk.

“I hope that our passengers understand the need to put these measures in place and promise that we will continually review them as the situation develops.”