NORTH Yorkshire Police have issued 255 fines for Covid rule breaches in the past week - up by 33 per cent - amid a marked change in people's behaviour and attitude.

Officers said today that those issued with fixed penalty notices included three nursing students and three law students who were found on Filey seafront having fish and chips on a public bench after travelling over from Leeds.

Another group of nine people from Hull, who had travelled to Filey in two vehicles from different households, was fined after being found having a barbecue in the country park, and a third case involved a driver from Harrogate who was caught travelling at 126mph on the A64 on their way to the coast, said Sgt Dan Thompson, based in Scarborough.

The incidents were revealed at a press briefing today at which Supt Mike Walker, who is in charge of the police's enforcement of the rules, said 127 of the fines were issued in the Scarborough district, 31 in York, eight in Ryedale, 20 in Hambleton and 11 in Selby district. He said that of the 255 issued, 119 went to local residents and 136 to visitors.

He said officers had encountered a change in behaviour and attitude since the roadmap out of lockdown was announced last week, with people taking a more relaxed approach and bending the rules.

He warned that this could jeopardise the speed at which the country could come out of lockdown. "We are not home and dry yet," he said. "We are not at a position where we can abandon social distancing and throw caution to the wind."

Supt Walker added that a total of 1,272 fixed penalty notices had now been issued by North Yorkshire Police during the current lockdown, and 3,165 since the pandemic began last March.

The briefing was later told that 199 people from North Yorkshire and York were still in hospital with Covid, with 43 in intensive care. These included 43 at York Hospital - down by nine - and seven at Scarborough, down by 6.

Officials said a total of 270,000 people in North Yorkshire and York had now received their first Covid vaccination, and letters would start going out this week to people who had their first jab in early December, asking them to make an appointment for their second dose.

They said there were now more vaccination centres and a better supply of vaccines, and it would be possible to give people their second dose while continuing to give others their first dose.

Meanwhile, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - which runs York and Scarborough hospitals - said today that it currently had 57 Covid patients, down by four on the total of 61 being treated on Monday.