We have received enquiries from a number of local residents, asking if the ‘dogs on beaches’ ban which runs from 1 May until 30 September, could be suspended during the coronavirus lockdown.

We have considered this request, but have taken the decision to stand by the bylaw like any other season. Banning dogs on our main bathing beaches for the specified period is a key qualifying requirement for the Blue Flag award, which is a significant selling point for the English Riviera as a destination.

If we were to allow dogs on beaches during the summer months, it will not only cull the Blue Flag award for this season, when we may be able to capture the tail end of this year’s tourism trade which would give the area a much needed boost, but this award will also be taken away from Torbay next year.

Also, during May the Environment Agency start their water quality testing, and the presence of dogs on beaches can have a negative effect on sample quality. If we get a low water quality reading, it stays on record for five years and could impact our current ‘excellent’ water quality rating. Even those beaches that are not blue flag beaches, but are favored by bathers, have very limited movement of water which is great for warming the water in the summer, but can result in bacteria being trapped on these beaches and causing health problems for bathers should any irresponsible dog owners allow their dog to foul.

Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said “Our top priority, especially at the time of this pandemic, is public safety. With people more likely to swim off of our glorious bathing beaches, with the warm weather and the anticipated ease of lockdown, the fact that bacteria is often trapped in the shallow waters due to low water movement would put bathers in harm’s way. In Torbay we have a unique situation with less resources than other local authorities that are able to be directed to beaches, however, we as a council encourage dog owners to take advantage of over half of the beaches in Torbay which are dog friendly. We are also looking forward to the future, where as a resort we would be looking at doing all we can to bounce back from what is looking to be a disastrous summer and attract visitors to the area using all of our unique selling points.”

Councillor Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Environment, Infrastructure and Culture for Torbay Council, said “We are still following government guidance during this second 3 week phase of the COVID-19 shutdown. As we don’t know how long the shutdown will go on for at this stage we will be following our usual seasonal policies. Once we know more about what the government’s longer term plans are, we will be in a better position to review our policies on any seasonal arrangements.

There are of course numerous locations where dogs can be exercised that don’t have seasonal restrictions.”

For further information on beaches within Torbay that are open to dogs including; Babbacombe Beach, Goodrington Sands North, Saltern Cove, Shoalstone Beach and many others, please visit the dogs on the beach page.

We are asking dog owners to continue to act responsibly and clean up after their dogs. With the significant reduction in dog bin collections, it would also be appreciated if waste could be taken home and placed in household bins for normal collection by TOR2.

Members of the public are reminded about the current COVID-19 restrictions with regards to social distancing and should only be leaving the house for essential journeys.


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