Sunny day reflects happy mood as family and friends finally able to meet in person again under rule of six

A SUNNY day reflected the mood of the occasion as friends and family were once again able to enjoy each other’s company as lockdown restrictions were eased.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:49 pm

People basked in the sun across Southsea with temperatures hitting 15C as they were finally able to see fond and familiar faces in person once more.

The easing of restrictions meant groups of up to six, or two households, were allowed to socialise in parks and gardens once more, while outdoor sports facilities reopened after the stay-at-home order ended.

The rule of six was first used to stop social gatherings of more than six people in September but has not been in place during both the second and third lockdowns.

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Leanne Snowdon, 51, with her daughter, Kim Perry, and daughter-in-law Daisy Manchip at Canoe Lake Picture: Habibur Rahman

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It is hoped its reintroduction will help control the spread of coronavirus as the first step in the government’s roadmap to easing controls.

And while there was still concern about spreading the virus, people were thrilled to finally have that all important contact with each other.

One family unit who had not met together since October were delighted – especially with it marking a special day they missed out on last year during lockdown.

Ease of lockdown restrictions are lifted as people up to a group of six can meet outdoors on 29 March 2021. Pictured: People in Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Last year it was my mum’s 50th birthday and we weren’t able to see her and celebrate so it’s been really nice to see her today,’ Kim Perry, 31, said of her mum Leanne Snowdown

It was all smiles as the Waterlooville mum and daughter were joined at Canoe Lake by Leanne’s daughter-in-law Daisy Manchip, 28.

The party were also joined by Kim and Daisy’s babies Olivia and Ralph, adding to the excitement of the occasion.

‘We’ve not all been together since October so it is really good to finally meet up again,’ Leanne said.

Ease of lockdown restrictions are lifted as people up to a group of six can meet outdoors on 29 March 2021. Pictured: Police presence at Canoe Lake Southsea. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘We’re enjoying having a small party and will be having another party later with our partners, which will be really nice after all this time.

‘It’s not normal to not have any bodily contact with those you are close to. It’s good just to be here and see them.’

Kim admitted it had been a tough year overall. ‘The family have had two babies in lockdown with me and Daisy and my mum wasn’t able to meet Olivia for eight weeks,’ she said.

‘It has been a strange time but it’s much better now we can meet again, though I am still quite scared by coronavirus.’

Friends Betty Corbett and Karen Claeys were in good spirits after meeting after a three month hiatus. ‘It’s wonderful to see each other again after such a long time, which is even better with the lovely weather,’ Betty, 65, of Milton, said.

Karen, 58, of Southsea, added: ‘It was just before the last lockdown when we last met so it feels great to meet up again.’

Others said they were happy to see restrictions eased but urged caution.

Martin Hickton and his partner Beverley, both 60, were happy to be able to take Martin’s mum Jean, 90, out for a stroll in the sun.

‘It’s been nice, and a lovely day for restrictions to be eased. I’m sure a lot of people have been lonely,’ the couple said.

‘As long as people are sensible and take it slowly hopefully everything will be ok.’

Police and PCSO’s were seen out on patrols but no incidents were seen by The News.

Portsmouth district commander superintendent Clare Jenkins had warned of reprisals for blatant breaches. ‘Our officers will continue to engage, explain and encourage in the first instance, however enforcement action will be taken for blatant or repeated regulation breaches,’ she said.