FERRY firm CalMac has issued an urgent "stay away" warning to day-trippers and second home owners as lockdown eases.

Travel to and from the Scottish islands has been reduced to essential journeys in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus through communities with limited health facilities.

It was feared that an outbreak of the virus could devastate the islands.

Passenger and vehicle numbers across CalMac’s 28 routes have fallen by 95%, creating what Brodick port master Colin McCort told The National was a "very surreal" atmosphere during what should have been a high-traffic time.

But some have still tried to make non-essential journeys, and this newspaper has revealed how 70 people were turned away from ferry ports in the first fortnight of the restrictions.

The easing of public health restrictions from today does not include those travel barriers.

But it's feared the changes and good weather over the weekend will trigger an increase in people trying to travel.

CalMac says it is braced for a rise in incidents – particularly to Clyde islands – and has re-issued firm "no-go" guidance.

Checks for proof or island residence or key worker status will continue before boarding is allowed.

Robert Morrison, CalMac director of operations, said: "As the First Minister made very clear yesterday travel to islands continues to be for essential reasons only, they are not open for recreational purposes and people trying to board for a day trip will be turned away.

"Likewise, people with island second homes should not be travelling and we would ask them to be responsible before trying to board.

"The good weather may tempt people to get out and about, but I would urge everyone to continue to follow government guidelines and stay away from the islands.”