Petition Extend winter beach times to allow dogs to be walked offlead all day in lockdown

Usually from 1st May dogs must be walked on beaches on leads between 10.30 am and 6pm every day. This is fine, unless there is a high tide, then dogs and owners crowd narrow beaches. During lockdown, people shouldn’t be sunbathing, so dogs can be off the lead all day.

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Allowing people to walk dogs off lead on a beach during lockdown will give people their exercise time and give the dogs some freedom. The beaches are not like they used to be in the height of tourism and are therefore no longer that crowded with other beach goers in the month of May.

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 21 May 2020

Stay at Home restrictions have now been eased to allow islanders to be out for six hours resulting in beaches being used more normally. The Regulations, therefore, need to remain in place.

Under Regulation 2(1)(h) of the Policing of Beaches (Jersey) Regulations 1959 it is prohibited to walk dogs on beaches without a lead between the hours of 10.30am and 6.00pm between 01 May and 30 September. It is also prohibited to ride any horse or pony on a beach in Jersey.

The extension of the ‘winter hours’ was intended to give dog walkers greater flexibility to comply with physical distancing rules while beaches were quiet during the initial Stay At Home restrictions, which limited the time outside to two hours a day.

However, in light of the changes to Stay at Home restrictions, ministers believe that a balance must be struck between achieving this flexibility and ensuring those currently accessing Jersey’s beaches for social activities are not unduly disturbed.

The Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Steve Pallett, was planning to lodge legislation to extend the period that dogs without a lead and horses could be on beaches until Stay at Home restrictions were lifted.

The draft legislation, due to be debated by the States Assembly on 12 May, would have amended the Policing of Beaches (Jersey) Regulations 1959. However, following the relaxing of Stay at Home restrictions, Senator Pallett, in agreement with the Council of Ministers, decided against extending the winter hours.

While these stricter rules were in place and people could only walk or exercise on the beach, it seemed sensible to extend the winter rules on allowing dogs to be walked off the lead during this lockdown period as there was little opportunity for dogs to be a nuisance to beach goers. It also allowed dog owners better opportunities to adhere to the physical distancing rules if they had the whole day to walk their dog rather than just the period before 10.30am and after 6pm.

However, since the relaxation of the Stay at Home restrictions, families and household groups are accessing the beach more readily and are increasingly likely to do so when the weather is good. This would have meant there was an increased risk that loose dogs would cause a nuisance to beach goers. The summer restrictions are specifically put in place to prevent this happening while people enjoy the beach, often with children.

However, should the situation change and stricter Stay at Home measures implemented, the amendment to the law could be debated.
Senator Steve Pallett
Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture

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