'Put a rug down and chat' - city parks likely to buzz as lockdown eases

Families enjoying the weather in Waterloo Park, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Families enjoying the weather in Waterloo Park, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

The city's parks are likely to have a renewed buzz from Monday as lockdown eases and people are allowed to meet friends outside.

From March 29, the coronavirus lockdown will ease slightly, with the stay at home order dropped and replaced with a stay local message.

Outdoor gatherings, including in gardens, of six people or two households will be allowed and visits to outdoor facilities, including tennis courts and open-air swimming pools, will resume.

Norwich Market and Norwich Castle Museum. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

People will more easily be able to grab a bite to eat off Norwich market and enjoy it with friends outdoors. - Credit: ANTONY KELLY

While coastal communities and those in tourist spots could be facing a busy few weeks, it is expected to be quieter in Norwich, with non-essential shops and restaurants remaining shut.

But the city's parks, which have been heavily relied-upon in lockdown, are likely to see more visitors as people reunite with loved ones over what are expected to be a few warm days.

Data tracking people's movements from Google showed last year that two days after lockdown eased on July 4, visits to parks, beaches and public gardens increased by 130pc in Norfolk.

People out cycling and exercising in Eaton Park during lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

People out cycling and exercising in Eaton Park during lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Margaret Bevan, of the Friends of Waterloo Park, said they were looking forward to seeing more people make use of the park.

She praised Norwich City Council and Norse, who she said had been busy making improvements there, including refurbishing its benches and improving the borders.

Good news!!! The council are really pushing on with the refurbishment of the park benches. They are doing a fantastic job.

Posted by Friends of Waterloo Park on Friday, 26 March 2021

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"People will be able to sit and chat with a takeaway cup of coffee," she said. "Hopefully people will still be sensible, there's plenty of room in the park.

"It will be nice to see more people and groups. It's lovely to see the park but in some ways it's quite sad to see the number of people on their own. It's nice that everybody can actually put a rug down and have a chat."

Families enjoying the weather in Waterloo Park, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Families enjoying the weather in Waterloo Park in Norwich last year. - Credit: Archant

Future plans, she said, include lowering the hedges - out of nesting season - so people can see right across to the cathedral, and expanding the play area, a project which is aimed to be completed by the summer holidays.

Elsewhere across Norwich, the rules mean people will be able to be more confidently grab lunch from the market and enjoy it with friends in a nearby park.

Facilities including the pitch and putt courses at Eaton Park and Mousehold will reopen. 

There have, though, been warnings from the emergency services for people to be mindful around open water, including the rivers and areas such as Whitlingham Broad.

Cooling off from the heatwave at Whitlingham. Students from Caister Academy at Whitlingham Outdoor E

Whitlingham Broad is always popular with visitors but people have been warned to be careful around open water. - Credit: Archant



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