Brits can ‘play sport and meet more friends outside’ in first stage of lockdown easing

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Brits can now look forward to socialising with friends outside and playing outdoor sport, as part of the first phase of Government's bid to ease the coronavirus lockdown in the country.

According to The Times, outdoor sports and socialising will be permitted first before the retail and hospitality sectors are reopened as open-air contact will be prioritised in Boris Johnson's plan to reopen England.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister promised to announce a 'route map' out of lockdown on February 22, with the hope that schools can fully reopen from March 8.

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And within weeks of the reopening of schools, sports like tennis and golf will be allowed along with outdoor socialising in limited groups.

Enjoying the hot weather in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield. Enjoying the hot weather in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.
Enjoying the hot weather in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.

It was also reported that outdoor markets are likely to be permitted to operate before the opening of high street shops and al-fresco dining before eating indoors.

Mr Johnson has also ordered that restrictions on alcohol drinks be relaxed, with the removal of the substantial meal rule.

The Prime Minister has also not ruled out a return to the tier system but said a national approach ‘might be better this time round, given that the disease is behaving much more nationally’.

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Sheffield was placed under Tier 3 restrictions before the national lockdown came into force on January 6 as most of the country was in strict Tier 4, where non-essential shops and pubs were shut.

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Under tier 3 restrictions, household mixing would remain banned in many places but groups of six people from different households would be allowed to get together in parks and other outdoor spaces.

Bars and restaurants would have to stay shut but gyms and non-essential shops could reopen and outdoor team sports could resume.

Britain is also on course in its vaccination campaign and Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the country will be able to ease restrictions once all over 50s have been offered the jab by late spring.

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Greg Fell, Sheffield’s director of public health, previously said he expected a return to Tier 3 restrictions in Sheffield when the national lockdown is eased.

Although Sheffield’s latest weekly infection rate is 220.2 cases per 100,000 people, which remains below the national average, Mr Fell predicted the current restrictions to remain in place for another six weeks to two months.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.