NICOLA Sturgeon has declared the Scottish islands a no-go area for visitors amid the coronavirus crisis, saying ferry companies have been told not to take “non-essential travellers”.

It is feared people living in Scotland’s tourist spots are being put at risk by the influx of tourists. While people can go outside, the

First Minister stressed they should

practise social distancing. “Beaches should not be busy, parks should not be full,” she said.

With people “flocking to Scotland’s remote communities”, the First Minister said that was putting “extra pressure on essential services and on health services that are already more distant from people”.

She said: “As of now we have advised our ferry companies, who have already suspended bookings, to no longer take non-essential travellers. Those who do not normally live on the islands and who have travelled there in the last few days will be able to leave to reduce pressure, but from now on ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to and from the mainland, and for essential supplies or business. Nothing else.”

She also told accommodation providers, such as hotels, B&Bs and holiday cottages: “You should not be accepting visitors. Provide accommodation for your staff and make yourselves available to help essential workers and support essential services, that is all.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our advice to everyone is to stay at home and do not travel to more remote parts of the country. If you arrive ill, you will compromise the health of others.

“It’s essential everyone behaves responsibly and follows the very clear public health advice we have issued to limit social contact.

“The UK Coronavirus Bill contains a range of provisions, which can be commenced and used at different times, according to the particular circumstances, and informed by scientific and health advice. Ministers will keep Parliament updated on such decisions, and will say more on this in tomorrow’s debate.”

The bill, being debated at Westminster today, which would give the Scottish Parliament powers to stem the tide of tourists, second home and campervan owners putting pressure on local services.

Leisure and tourist bosses are also urging people not to travel after some areas, including Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, were “overwhelmed” by visitor numbers at the weekend.

Car parks, toilets, camping and motorhome sites are now going to be closed after people disregarded the official advice and headed to the towns and villages within the park.

Scotland’s Tourism Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said the emergency legislation being debated at Westminster today would give both the UK and Scottish Governments “specific powers” to crack down on the problem.

Scotland Office Minister Douglas Ross said the UK and Scottish Governments had been “very clear” in telling people to keep away.

“Stay at home, don’t risk yourself and others by going to more remote parts of the country where the NHS will be under pressure and the local shops will be under pressure,” he said. “We shouldn’t need to enforce this, but when this Bill is debated in Parliament the powers will be coming to the Scottish Parliament to deal with this if we have to.”

Judy Murray, mother of tennis aces Andy and Jamie Murray, has joined in the condemnation of people flocking to the countryside.

She tweeted a picture of a car and trailer with the message “Go home idiots” daubed on the side.

“For now, we ask you to stay home, care for loved ones and, as soon as it’s safe to do so, the Road to the Isles and its communities and businesses will welcome you,” said Sine MacKellaig-Davis, chair of the Road To The Isles Marketing Group which represents tourist operations along the A830 road connecting Mallaig to Fort William. “Right now, we need to protect all the people that make the Road to the Isles such a unique and special place.”

Local food supplies and health services within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park are unable to cope with the extra pressure, according to park authority chief executive Gordon Watson.

He said the weekend had brought a “huge volume” of visitors particularly to the towns and villages.

“This included shops and cafes being overwhelmed,” he said.

“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.

He added: “While most of our buildings and facilities had closed to the public last week we had kept some remaining facilities open for people to use if they were using the National Park responsibly.

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

“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.”

Bosses of the North Coast 500 route are also urging people to stay away, saying: “We do not encourage people to visit the North Coast 500 during the current crisis. In the interests of absolute clarity, we would repeat again: we echo the advice given by the government regarding travel, self-isolation and social distancing at this time.”