People reminded not to gather indoors as lockdown restrictions are eased

People out cycling and exercising in Eaton Park during lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Groups of up to six people or two households can socialise outdoors in parks and gardens from March 29. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

People are being urged not to gather indoors as coronavirus restrictions were eased to allow people to meet in open spaces.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown on January 4 this year but from today groups of up to six or two households will be able to socialise in parks and gardens in England.

But despite restrictions easing, people are being urged not to meet indoors and to take the next steps safely.

Wells was quiet on the first March weekend during the third national coronavirus lockdown.

Restrictions are being eased from Monday, March 29 but people are still being urged to be careful despite being able to meet up in open spaces in groups of up to six. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Norfolk Police's temporary assistant chief constable Julie Wvendth has said despite the continued roll out of vaccinations there will be those "fearful about areas of our county being swamped with visitors".

She said social distancing continues to be vital in helping to prevent the spread of this virus. 

Figures for the seven days up to March 23 show that South Norfolk is now the local authority with the lowest rate in the county after recording just 9.2 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to March 23.

Figures are on the rise in Breckland, up from 56.4 cases per 100,000 in the week up to March 21 to 85.7 in the seven days to March 23 but that comes at the same time as a covid outbreak at Wayland Prison.

Only one out of 15 areas in South Norfolk, two out of 14 in North Norfolk and none out of 13 in Great Yarmouth have recorded more than two cases in the past seven days.

Across the county, 73 out of 110 areas have recorded less than three cases in the seven days up to March 23.

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GP Dr Hilary Jones MBE has reminded people to "take this next step safely" in a short advert by the Government, which will be broadcast on television, radio and online platforms over the coming weeks.

The short clip, which animates the spread of coronavirus particles between a group of friends meeting indoors compared with in their garden, will be shown for the first time on Monday at 7.15pm on ITV.

It also urges people to open windows to improve ventilation in their homes, and presents the government's new "Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air" slogan.

This is because smaller droplets and aerosols containing the virus remain suspended in the air longer in enclosed spaces, making it more likely to be inhaled by others, experts have said.

Marking the launch of the advert, health secretary Matt Hancock said: "We have come so far thanks to the vaccine rollout and that progress must be protected.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the new NHS Test and Trace system will help us 'k

Health secretary Matt Hancock - Credit: Getty Images

"So let's take this next step safely, when you meet others do so outdoors, and keep a safe distance."

England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said although the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has been reduced during national lockdowns "thanks to the efforts of the public", it is "very clear that outdoor spaces are safer than indoors".

NHS psychologist Laverne Antrobus advised planning meetings carefully to ensure that no more than six people are involved and resisting peer pressure to break the rules.

She said: "The new guidance around meeting a group of people outdoors is really exciting and is a big step in right direction, however, it's really important to stick to the guidance and only meet outdoors."

Groups of up to six or two households will be able to socialise in parks and gardens in England from Monday, and sports facilities will be allowed to reopen.