Despite updated government rules advising that household groups can now travel for exercise, residents of Scarborough, Whitby and Filey are discouraging tourists whom they fear may bring coronavirus with them from urban areas.
North Yorkshire County Council and the two town councils have taken the decision to voluntarily extend closures of car parks, public toilets and the withdrawal of lifeguard cover on beaches.
The county council has also authorised the closure of two seafront roads in Scarborough, Royal Albert Drive and Marine Drive, this weekend to restrict vehicle access and parking and to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists to stay two metres apart.
Potential visitors have also been reminded that there will no handwashing facilities available as public toilets will not be open.
On-street parking in Whitby will also be blocked off.
In addition, pubs, restaurants, shops, cafes, and visitor attractions remain closed in line with all hospitality businesses nationally.
Residents' fears stem from the high coronavirus infection rate in Teesside, where many daytrippers to the Yorkshire coast come from.
Coun Don Mackenzie from North Yorkshire County Council said:
“We appreciate that many people will want to make the most of the fact that they can now travel to take their exercise and stay outdoors for longer. However, too many people have made too many sacrifices for us to lose sight of the risks with this virus. So we are asking people to plan ahead.
“To consider the fact that many places offer very limited handwashing and toilet facilities and where they are open there will almost certainly be queues.
“Paths and pavements may well be really busy, making staying at least two metres apart almost impossible.
“On top of that, we have taken the decision to temporarily close our large on-street parking facilities in Whitby. We will also close Marine Drive and Royal Albert Drive to restrict parking and to provide more space for pedestrians to apply the social distancing guidelines.
“Throughout the weekend we will monitor the number of pedestrians and we may have to close more roads to protect the public as best we can.”
The mayors of all three towns have also released statements asking visitors to stay away
Scarborough mayoress Hazel Lynskey said:-
"We are still working through the government’s new coronavirus advice and guidance and what implications it will have for our communities.
"The guidance on travelling anywhere for exercise presents us with a potential significant challenge. Many residents are worried this will mean people flocking to our coastal towns and villages and we share their concerns.
"The new guidance means the police’s enforcement powers are now very limited and we have virtually no powers of our own to stop people coming to the borough.
"Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our residents. Therefore despite the new guidance, we are preparing proactive communications with our partners to discourage people from travelling to the coast.
"We want to welcome visitors to our part of North Yorkshire, but now is not the right time. Everything will still be here when this is over, but until then, many businesses remain closed in line with government guidelines. Our public toilets are closed too and there is no lifeguard cover on our beaches. We are encouraging visitors to play their part in limiting the virus spread and only come back when we can welcome them properly."
Filey mayoress Jacqui Houlden-Banks said:-
"Filey supports the views of Scarborough Borough Council. Filey will be ready to welcome back all its visitors as soon as we are able, under the guidelines issued to us by the government."
Whitby mayoress Linda Wild said:-
"Local people are concerned because Whitby is not built for social distancing. It is important that everyone acts responsibly and doesn’t overwhelm Whitby while we all get to grips with step one of the government’s plan.
"Thank you to everyone for supporting Whitby and the Scarborough district at this difficult time. We can't wait to welcome you all back again, but only once it's safe to do so and our hotels, pubs, restaurants and attractions are open again."
So, where can you go this weekend?
As government-funded agencies, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and North York Moors National Park Authority have had to re-open car parks and some public toilets. However, visitor centres are likely to remain closed and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is not actively welcoming visitors, stating that they would have preferred a staggered re-opening to take into account the health concerns of the local population.
In the North York Moors, access is 'limited' and the National Park Authority has warned that they are not expecting to fully re-open until July at the earliest. They have reminded visitors of social distancing responsibilities and that camping, motorhome travel and overnight stays in second homes are still forbidden.
The car parks at Newton under Roseberry, Sutton Bank and Saltergate are now open. The toilets at Sutton Bank will also be re-opening shortly. These measures will remain under constant review.
Bradford Council has re-opened its car parks at several popular tourist spots, including those in Ilkley which are used by visitors to Ilkley Moor and the River Wharfe.
Forestry England, which manages Dalby Forest in Ryedale, is also a government agency but they are taking a cautious approach and the re-opening of car parks and visitor facilities will be phased. Currently, the Dalby Forest car park remains shut.
Visitors are also being discouraged from East Yorkshire coastal towns such as Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea.
As a charity, the National Trust have the option of managing their own re-opening, and they have chosen to stagger access to their sites in line with social distancing guidelines. Outdoor sites are likely to open before historic houses. Their coastal car parks remain closed.
The RSPB will not be re-opening their nature reserves until wildlife has had time to adapt to the re-introduction of visitors.
Car parks at Yorkshire Water-managed reservoirs will also remain shut until further notice.