These Yorkshire beaches have all suspended their dog bans during the lockdown

Yorkshire's beaches will be accessible to dogs this spring and summer as restrictions have been relaxed during the lockdown period.

A dog walker on Bridlington Bay during Storm Ciara in February
A dog walker on Bridlington Bay during Storm Ciara in February

East Riding Council and Scarborough Council, which collectively manage all of Yorkshire's beaches, have confirmed that dog bans due to come into force from May 1 will not be actively enforced.

The decision has been taken to enable dog owners to use the beaches to exercise their pets, and because social gatherings on beaches are forbidden during the lockdown - but they must be kept on a lead.

Normally, the ban is in place to ensure the beach is a safe and pleasant environment for recreation and to prevent dog fouling, and is lifted at the end of the summer season on September 30.

Although the restriction is enforced by a legal order which cannot be temporarily revoked, both local authorities have stated their their staff will not take enforcement action against dog owners until the coronavirus lockdown has ended.

This means that dogs could still be banned from beaches later in the summer if the lockdown is eased before October.

The dog banning order has been in place in the East Riding every summer since 2009, and applies to Bridlington North, Bridlington South, Hornsea and Withernsea beaches.

In the Scarborough Council area, the order covers designated sections of Scarborough South Bay, Scarborough North Bay, Whitby West Cliff, Tate Hill, Filey and Sandsend beaches.

Scarborough Council had inititally stressed the importance of the ban in ensuring good water quality levels at the sites, but later clarified that the £75 fixed penalty notices would not be handed out during the lockdown. Lifeguards are not currently on duty and the Environment Agency has suspended water testing.

Dog owners are still liable to be fined for not cleaning up after their pet and animals must be kept on a lead.

Although the beaches will be accessible to local dog owners, those from outside of the area are advised against non-essential journeys to the coast.

An East Riding of Yorkshire Council spokesperson said: "From 1 May, the by-laws relating to dogs and their owners using certain parts of our beaches are due to come into force, as they do each year.

"Due to the current social distancing policies, East Riding of Yorkshire Council will not be enforcing the by-laws for a temporary period. This will permit people to utilise the beaches for the purpose of exercising their dogs, enabling more space to ensure that social distancing can be maintained, whilst our coastal services officers are engaged in other duties relating to the Covid-19 response.

"The by-laws will be reintroduced at such a time as water quality testing commences by the Environment Agency or when our lifeguards become operational, at which point the by-laws will again become enforceable. Please ensure that, whilst taking advantage of this relaxation of the restriction, your dogs are kept on a lead at all times and social distancing is maintained."