Friends, family and couples living separately set to reunite in parks as lockdown measures ease in England

Harriet Brewis
AFP via Getty Images

Friends, family members and couples who have been separated for almost eight weeks will be able to meet up in parks under England's new lockdown rules.

As long as a two-metre distance is maintained, and people "stay alert," they will be allowed to sunbathe or chat with one other person from a different household, a Government official has confirmed.

It means loved-ones who have been forced apart for almost two months will be able to reunite in person, provided they respect social distancing rules.

The easing of restrictions, which will come into force on Wednesday, initially sparked some confusion as Boris Johnson indicated in his national address on Sunday evening that sunbathing could still only be done with members of the same household.

He said: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own household.”

But a Government official later confirmed that as long as they stay two metres apart, people will be allowed to relax and chat with another person from another household.

Mr Johnson had previously warned people that if friends outside of a household asked to meet up, they should refuse.

Addressing the British public at the start of the lockdown on March 23, Mr Johnson said: “You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no.

“You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.”

The day after the strict measures were introduced, the PM’s spokesman insisted the “rules are clear” when asked about couples who did not live together.

He said: “When you are out of the house, you should only do so with members of your own household or if it is for work reasons.”

The PM’s spokesman said at the time that exemptions to the rules on being outside the home applied in two scenarios – key workers taking their children to school and children living with two separated parents.

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