Thousands flocked to north-east and Highland beauty spots over the weekend – prompting warnings for the public to stay the course with lockdown’s end in sight.
Aberdeenshire boasted the UK’s hottest temperature on Saturday as the mercury topped out at 14.4c (58f) at Fyvie Castle, according to the Met Office.
And hundreds in Aberdeen, unable to leave their council area due to Covid restrictions, headed to the beach to make the most of what felt like the end of winter.
Picnickers took to the sands with blankets, while groups of more than five gathered to speak in the sun.
But despite the huge crowds, police said they had only one call about a suspected breach of the Stay At Home orders at the seafront over the weekend – and officers found no wrong doing.
Kevin Cadona, of the Promenade Cafe on the Esplanade, said he didn’t feel the beach was “overly busy” compared to usual summer numbers.
He added: “It has been okay, the weather we have had after the snow storms has turned for the better and has brought a decent number of people out.
“I think the thing about the beach is with the sea-breeze people feel a bit safer and we are just thankful that people are coming down at the moment, it remains to be seen if that will continue but it’s good just now.”
The stay at home order from the government is due to be lifted early next month while there is hope of a nationwide return to the geographic levelled restrictions by its end.
Last night an NHS Grampian spokeswoman told The P&J: “Fresh air and exercise are vital to support our physical and mental health.
“The recent spell of good weather certainly makes it more pleasant to spend time outside.
“However, we must all remember that a high level of restrictions remain in place across Scotland. We must observe these at all times, to keep ourselves and others safe.”
On the banks of the city’s rivers, there was more al fresco dining – as one P&J reporter was forced to negotiate their way through a group of upwards of 10 beer-swilling students barbecuing and booting a football around near the Don in Seaton Park.
Many of Aberdeen’s other green spaces were very busy also, with one man visiting Hazlehead yesterday claiming it was “too busy” for him to feel safe.
And last night city leaders were unified in their encouragement for all to to stick at it, for just a little longer.
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said there was no proof anyone was breaking the rules at the city’s beauty spots, but warned any deviation risked the good work to drive case numbers down in the Granite City.
He said: “The end of lockdown is within touching distance and it’s important everyone sticks to the rules in place.
“The only people who can get us out of lockdown are ourselves – by sticking to the rules and getting the infection rates as low as possible.
“We have to get ourselves in the best position we can for when the tiered system comes back in and the lower we are, the greater the chance of restrictions being lifted.
“As a whole city we don’t want to blow that, so close to the end – everyone needs to do their bit, sticking to the rules.”
Depute Provost Jennifer Stewart admitted she “hated” the lockdown situation but urged everyone to keep at it a while longer.
The council’s public protection convener said: “When the end really is in sight, I would hate for it to be spoiled.
“We have to stick in for this last bit, we need to keep at it.
“We need to stick to the rules for this last bit to ensure our safety and ultimately our freedom.
“But it’s important to thank the majority of people who are adhering to the rules.”
Just on Friday, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman described staying at home as “the most important rule”.