Covid concerns were expressed as crowds flocked to attractions across the north during the weekend’s burst of bright weather.
There were reports of large numbers visiting locations such as Nairn Beach, Loch Morlich, ski resorts, Rosemarkie and various playparks.
Highland councillors said they hoped the public were acting responsibly when out, and convener Bill Lobban, whose constituency includes the Cairngorms and its popular Loch Morlich, urged caution, saying: “Hopefully the end is in sight for the restrictions which have had a huge impact on our daily lives and has decimated our economy.
“But that does not mean we can now throw caution to the wind and break the rules that have played a fundamental role in keeping the virus in check.
“Covid does not spread by itself, we spread it. So people have to stay local, abide by the rules and act responsibly.
“The hills, lochs and rivers will still be here when the pandemic has passed.”
Inverness South Councillor Andrew Jarvie said: “After being cooped up indoors in -12C, now its +12C I think it is important we all just get outside for a bit. Not just because it is nice weather, but simply for our own health.
“But we all cannot just flock to the beach or popular spots at once, the more people there are in an area does increase infections.
“The risk outdoors is much lower, but the risk unfortunately is not zero. We all like to go to our favourite spots, but just for now, I would just ask people to think of other quieter places or take advantage of the longer day and maybe go earlier or later.”
And Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson added: “Crucially we need a safe return for our visitors and our communities.
“Infection control and cleanliness and great communication needs to be at the heart of all we do.”
The council will this week discuss an investment of £1.5million to tackle extra waste collections, the safe disposal of campervan waste, improved laybys and passing places in the most pressurised areas, She added: “Perhaps as important as all this are plans for 10 new warden/rangers who will help communicate with our visitors and communities to promote safe and best practise.
“Lets all hope for a safe and sunny summer, we all need it.”
Nairn councillor Liz MacDonald added: “I am seen lots of people walking about, but everyone seems to be quite good at socially distancing.
“People need to get out and of they are going to the beach and behaving responsibly and are aware of the rules then is should be fine.”
Alistair Fraser, 57, civil engineer from Inverness, added: “I think there are more people out and about, partly due to the better weather, but I think generally people are sticking to the rules. The shops are still closed so what else are they meant to do. I don’t think people are out gathering.”
Russell Scott, 37, a joiner from Inverness, said: “Now that it’s warmer people want to get out a bit more. I think for the most part people are abiding by things, as far as I can see.”
Martin Crouden, 33, a construction worker from Inverness, added: “I guess people are just getting fed up now, it’s getting harder for people. I think it’s natural. They want to exercise and see their friends more.”