Cairngorm ski resort bosses have issued a stern warning for Covid rule-breakers to stay away when the centre reopens tomorrow.
Interim chief executive Susan Smith appealed for snow sport enthusiasts, hillwalkers and climbers from parts of Scotland in Level 3 and Level 4 – such as Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – to follow government guidance and remain in their local area.
It comes amid concerns that some people are determined to take to the slopes – even if it means flouting the rules and potentially spreading coronavirus.
The chief executive said: “If you are planning to travel to Cairngorm Mountain, you need to understand the travel restrictions in place in Scotland and in local authority areas.
“If you deviate from the rules then you are breaking Scottish law.
“The relaxation in restrictions for five days during the festive period is for visiting family and does not apply to tourist and leisure activities.
“Under current Scottish Government travel conditions, unless you have a specific justification for travel you must not travel between Scotland and England, Northern Ireland, Wales, County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland and Jersey.
“If you live in a Level 3 or 4 local authority area you must, by Scottish law, remain in that area unless you have a specific justification.
“This applies to people who live in Scotland and those who live outwith Scotland, who may be thinking about travelling for a skiing or snowboarding vacation.”
Messages on Cairngorm Mountain’s Facebook page vary from welcoming the reopening to people expressing concern about enthusiasts travelling from restricted areas.
One said: “Given that the vast majority of people in the UK are in tiers which should prohibit them from traveling to Cairngorm, it really shouldn’t be too busy.”
Another said: “Central Belters are breaking restrictions seven days a week.
“I can’t imagine it will be any different in the Cairngorms.”
The Cairngorm resort boss said she expected the slopes to be busy enough with those who are allowed to visit making the most of the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor activities.
She said: “With the mountain opening for snow sports at the weekend, we are expecting a very busy festive period here at Cairngorm.
“We’ve laid out clear guidance for all our visitors and are advising everyone who contacts us of the measures that will be in place.
“The response overall has been very positive and understanding, with most people recognising that we all have responsibilities to look out for one another in these difficult times. We’re confident that the vast majority of mountain visitors will behave responsibly.”
In an effort to prevent the spread of Covid, the shuttle bus service from the Ciste car park will not be running this year.
That means that when the top car park is full, the resort will not be able to take any more customers, including season pass holders.
To assist with monitoring the number of visitors to the resort, bosses are asking that all hill walkers and climbers accessing the Northern Corries and ski tourers use the lower level of the main Cas car park.
This will allow car parking attendants to relay accurate information on customer numbers to the technical operations team, so they can manage capacity.
During busy spells, centre management are encouraging the use of alternative car parks and mountain access routes such as the Ciste ridge to the summit, the Sugarbowl and Glenmore Forest Park.
The funicular remains closed while multi-million pound repair work is carried out on its structure.
A spokesman for Highlands and Island Enterprise, who operate Cairngorm Mountain, said: “Balfour Beatty have now completed the programme scheduled for this year, which involved excavating areas around five of the pier bases and carrying out initial strengthening works.
“The contractor is currently demobilising for winter and works will resume in the spring.”