'It's been a slog': Joy as loved ones reunite amid easing of England Covid rules

Tearful scenes in Birmingham park as couples and grandparents and grandchildren meet for first time in months

For Allyssa Bravo, “everything aligned perfectly” on Monday, her 27th birthday, as she was reunited with her fiance for the first time in seven months when lockdown restrictions eased.

With the official stay at home order ending, Bravo travelled with her family from Burton upon Trent to Cannon Hill park in Birmingham, while her partner, Paul Abustan, travelled up from London, leading to an emotional reunion.

“It’s been a mixture of emotions. We’re both so happy, I can’t even describe it. It’s the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other,” said Bravo, a ward sister at Queen’s hospital Burton. The family had prepared a picnic, complete with purple birthday cake, to mark the occasion and Bravo said she was overjoyed to be able to celebrate with her family after a long few months in lockdown.

Having helped treat Covid patients during the pandemic, she knows the importance of sticking to the rules but was relieved to finally get to spend time with her family now that restrictions allow outdoor meetings of two households or six people.

“I know the severity of Covid because I’ve seen it, that’s why we don’t even think about even trying to break the rules even a little bit," ella dijo. “It’s been a proper test but obviously there’s a bigger picture and it’s really serious.”

They weren’t the only family using the park as a place to meet in the middle now people are allowed to travel further from home. Pam Guthrie was giddy with excitement as she drove up to Birmingham from Bristol with her husband, Phil, to see their grandsons for the first time since October.

“As soon as we knew the rules were being lifted on the 29th and the kids were on holiday, that was it, we were coming on the 29th first thing,” said Pam, as five-year-old Edward and two-year-old Benjamin ran among the trees behind her. “Obviously we have seen the children on Facetime but I was just saying to them, 'Mirar, you’re in 3D’!"

The couple had a tearful reunion with their daughter Gemma Cox that morning and like many were heading to the park for a picnic in the, thankfully, sunny weather. “It’s been a long slog this lockdown, it’s felt like a long time. We’ve been fed up,” said Gemma.

“We’ve not met up at all and you see people around you who have not been abiding by the rules so it’s been tough but we’ve really stuck to it,” said Pam.

“We saw signs on the motorway saying to minimise travel but I thought, that’s not going to happen today,” Phil added.

Cannon Hill park was full of life on Monday morning, with running and walking groups meeting up for the first time after lockdown now outdoor sports are permitted, and the tennis courts and crazy golf course welcomed their first visitors in months.

Joe Seakins and Lucy Bailey, mechanical engineering students at the University of Birmingham, were brushing up on their tennis skills after a long few months stuck at home studying.

“Sitting at your desk in your room every day can be quite draining and you don’t see many people,” said Seakins.

“We normally just go for walks but now that they have opened tennis courts we thought we might as well give it a go. It’s really brightened our day,” added Bailey.

Valentina Basile had brought sons Noah, nueve, and Joshua, six, to play crazy golf at the start of their Easter holidays. “We used to come here quite often but we’ve had to stick to local parks because we weren’t allowed to travel far out the area so this is a bit of a novelty," ella dijo.

Tony Fox, the chair of the Cannon Hill Park Friends group, said he was delighted to see the park’s facilities opening back up again and larger groups returning to its 250-acre grounds. “The community has shown real resilience and we’re focused on coming back better. It’s really important for the future of our green infrastructure.”




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