How people are meeting up with their loved-ones as lockdown is eased
- Credit: Archant
Friends and family who don’t live together are now pretty easy to spot.
In Gorleston, on Wednesday, on the first day of lockdown restrictions easing, a flurry of people were milling around in pairs - albeit two metres apart.
Noticeable among hand-holding couples and the gaggles of fraught families were the friends and relations that were meeting again, outdoors, many for the first time in seven weeks.
And while we are used to social distancing with strangers in supermarkets - and have a pretty good handle on how far 2m is - we now have to do it with our nearest and dearest in public.
Among those taking advantage of the new rules announced by Boris Johnson on Monday were father and son Paul and James Field from Gorleston.
The pair enjoyed a reunion in one of the seaside town’s Edwardian shelters - designed to shield bygone trippers from the worst of the weather, but perfect for today’s coronavirus catch-up.
Clearly observing the 2m rule they said it was a real pleasure to meet up in person, but stressed they were strictly adhering to social distancing.
As “rule follower” fire fighters working at the same station in Lowestoft they were used to seeing each other most days until lockdown.
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Mr Field, 55, said he retired during the period of enforced confinement after 27 years, and had to cancel a party that would have seen some 160 key workers join together in March.
MORE: From face masks to hair salons - 9 things we’ve learnt from the lockdown exit planMuch of their chat was about those they had heard about who were flouting the rules with gatherings.
The issue was particularly important on the day of their first meeting - just as another relative was being laid to rest.
James Field, 23, said he had not had to choose between meeting up with his mum or his dad because Mrs Field was at a funeral for a family member who had died after contracting Covid-19.
A home-bought coffee cup at his feet he said it had been lovely to meet up with his dad.
The family were close and had enjoyed many virtual meet-ups and quizzes online, including a fancy dress birthday party, tagged “a good night in.”
“We were straight on the text this morning,” he said.
“It’s just a bit of a general catch-up.
“We are rule followers and have only seen each other on Facetime, but it’s not the same,” he added.
His dad said: “It’s really nice to meet up in person obeying social distancing.
“One of the things we have discussed this morning is the number of people not complying.”
MORE: Can I see my family? All you need to know about the new lockdown rulesNow people were allowed out more than once a day he would probably take the dog out later too, he added.
Meanwhile Kathleen Miller and Sharon Shepherdson were enjoying a distanced stroll along the lower prom.
The friends had come in separate cars from Hopton and Bradwell to stride out together in person, after weeks of chatting on the phone.
Before lockdown a Wednesday walk with the dogs and two other friends was a weekly highlight followed by a cuppa at one of their homes.
Now the rules had eased they decided they could meet two at a time while still steering clear of each other.
Mrs Miller said it was lovely reconnect although it did not feel “normal and natural” and people were still having to dance round each other as they crossed in the street.
The friends also both said it was a timely boost for everyone’s mental health to be able to go out more than once a day and meet up with friends who, although they were probably still connecting in various ways, would benefit from seeing each other face-to-face.
At the Marina Bay cafe where owner George Challouma has been offering a takeaway service for around three weeks, trade was “steady.”
He said the numbers of people around had been pretty constant with no noticeable increase in visitors.