Skiers from Tier 3 and 4 areas of England ignored Covid-19 lockdown rules by travelling to Cairngorm Mountain, blocking access to roads – despite the snow resort being closed under a lockdown on the Scottish mainland.
The Highlands snow resort closed following an announcement that mainland Scotland was entering Tier 4 from Boxing Day.
Operators at the resort say they had seen visitors arrive from across the UK, including parts of England in Tier 3 and Tier 4, despite a Government ban on all but essential travel.
Later today Nicola Sturgeon is expected to map out stricter Covid-19 measures after recalling the Scottish Parliament.
It comes two days after skiers and sledders parked outside gates to the venue and hiked two miles to reach the snow resort, causing traffic problems and sparking fears that some had had broken Covid rules to get there.
Scottish law prohibits travel ‘without a reasonable excuse’ to or from a Level 3 or 4 local authority areas.
Glenmore resident Duncan Ferguson said: ‘It was carnage.
Around 150 people parked their cars at an access road to Cairngorm Mountain on Saturday – despite the snow resort being closed to the public since Christmas Eve
Prior to closing last month, Cairngorm Mountain’s chief executive, Susan Smith, said there had been evidence of people travelling to the Highlands resort from across the UK
‘I can understand that people want to get out, but why come here all the time?
‘I had someone knock on my door asking where the sledging field was. Anyone who is local knows where the Hayfield is.
‘We have a foot of snow here so I understand the lure, but people are being selfish.’
Local councillor Bill Lobban said: ‘The question you have to ask is where do all these people come from? I don’t know the individuals but I would very much doubt that they are all local.
Villagers in Glenmore described a scene of ‘carnage’ on Saturday, as one said of visitors: ‘I would very much doubt that they are all local’
The chaos at Cairngorm came ahead of Holyrood being recalled today, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon prepares to deliver an urgent statement tightening Covid-19 rules
Scotland’s Tier 4 travel guidance explained
Since Boxing Day, all of Scotland has been in either Tier 3 or 4 of lockdown.
The Scottish Government has been clear on its travel ban, stating: ‘To suppress the spread of COVID-19 it is essential that, with limited exceptions, there is no travel to or from areas where higher numbers of people may be carrying the virus.’
Regarding international travel, or to neighbouring England, it states: ‘Non-essential travel, such as going on holiday, is not a reasonable excuse to leave a level 3 or 4 area.
‘Travel to or from Scotland without a reasonable excuse is not permitted.’
It adds: ‘Scottish law prohibits travel without a reasonable excuse to or from a Level 3 or 4 local authority area.’
‘The advice not to travel means just that, it doesn’t mean you should be driving halfway across the country just to visit Glenmore or anywhere else. There are plenty of places you can exercise without getting in your car.’
Police received no complaints over the parking chaos on Saturday.
Scenes of carnage in Glenmore came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recalled Holyrood to discuss additional Covid-19 measures to curb the spread of the virus.
The SNP leader will meet with senior ministers this morning to agree new curbs before then delivering an urgent statement to a recalled Scottish Parliament this afternoon.
Yesterday Scotland announced 2,464 new cases of the disease, with the latest figures for hospital admissions and deaths not due until Tuesday.
Susan Smith, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd’s interim chief executive, previously issued a warning to Covid rule-breakers.
In her final statement before closing she said: ‘We are closing for no other reason than the safety of our staff, customers and the local community.
‘It has been evident in the past few weeks that, regardless of the travel restrictions, people are insistent on breaking the law and coming into the Highlands from Tier 3 and 4 areas and other parts of the UK.’
Hundreds of people arrived at beauty spots in Wales last week – with park wardens suffering abuse from visitors travelling from Tier 4 areas.
Cairngorm Mountain said visitors from Tier 3 and Tier 4 parts of England were travelling to the snow resort in the Scottish Highlands, before it closed last month
Wales may be under Alert Level 4, but dozens of cars lined Snowdonia on New Year’s Day, with some travelling from as far as Kent
Crowds at Snowdon followed similar scenes at the Brecon Beacons, where hikers from different households in England travelled more than 75 miles in a minibus together to climb a Welsh mountain
Cairngorm Mountain resort remains shut, after Scotland announced a further 2,464 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday
North Wales Police said its officers have been turning people, some who have come from as far as Milton Keynes in London, away from Snowdonia.
On New Year’s Day images of parked cars lining the streets of the picturesque Welsh beauty spot.
Snowdonia National Park’s Twitter page added: ‘Remember: Exercise should start and finish from home. Keep Wales safe.’
Last week, hikers from different households in England travelled more than 75 miles in a minibus together to climb a Welsh mountain.
Police said the walkers were from mixed households and had travelled from Cheltenham to South Wales for a hike.