Friends and loves ones reunite in South Tyneside as lockdown restrictions ease - but authorities urge people to stay safe

Families and friends reunited – South Tyneside households have been making the most of new rules on meeting up as covid restrictions continue to ease.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:39 pm
Out and about at Sandhaven Beach on the first day of the national lockdown measures being relaxed. From left Sue Mattinson with George, Wendy Baxter with Meg and Lesley Ball with Teddy.

From Monday, March 29, two households or groups of six people are allowed to meet outdoors, including private gardens.

But with the borough being home to such a stunning coastline and plenty of beautiful parks, many friends and loved ones chose to meet away from home.

Under previous restrictions people were permitted to meet up one-on-one, first just for exercise, then socially from March 8.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Members of Run Eat Sleep enjoying the return of sports groups

But for some, Monday was the first time in months they had seen friends and relatives, and there were plenty of smiles out and about.

As restrictions ease, however, authorities have been urging people to stay safe and stick to the rules so the community can keep driving down covid rates.

Tom Hall, director of public health for South Tyneside, said: “The easing of lockdown restrictions this week does not mean that coronavirus has been eradicated from our communities.

“We know many people may be will be keen to meet up with others for social interaction under the ‘rule of six’ or household rules, particularly ahead of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend which is a time known for family gatherings and celebrations.

Members of Run Eat Sleep enjoying the return of sports groups

"It is vital that people don’t lose sight of what the easing of restrictions aim to achieve. It is critical they continue to follow the national guidelines in place.”

Mr Hall said although the ‘stay at home’ restriction has been lifted, it was important to be safe.

“We would still encourage people to minimise travel and avoid places which look too busy,” he said.

“It is up to everyone play their part, to act responsibly to help keep themselves, their family and their communities safe.

"The best way we can ensure cases continue to fall and lockdown measures are not reinstated is to be sensible and continue to follow the Government rules and the guidance on Hands, Face and Space.”

Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchison, of Northumbria Police said it was ‘not a time for complacency’ – though he thanked everyone for their efforts already during a ‘difficult year’.

“We want people to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with friends and family outdoors. Everyone should be able to feel confident that they can do so safely, so we will continue to patrol these areas to ensure that is the case,” he said.

“We would urge everyone to remain responsible and remember this slight easing of the rules, though exciting, is not a full return to normal life.

He added: “We all must continue to follow the rules and do everything we can to keep ourselves and others safe.”

Sporting activities and outdoor leisure facilities have also been permitted to reopen as part of restrictions easing.

Grassroots football is returning to Temple Park, and athletics to Monkton Stadium.

Both South Shields and Whitburn golf clubs are reopen, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, so is the Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf at the seafront.

Sadly the rides at Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, and many of South Tyneside’s other attractions, must stay closed until at least April 12, the next date on the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.