Harborough toasts the 'first day of freedom' as lockdown restrictions start to ease

Sporting facilities and grassroots sport are back while up to six people – or two full households – are given the green light to meet outside, including in back gardens, for the first time in four months

Monday, 29th March 2021, 1:55 pm

Thrilled mums, dads, kids and entire families – as well as excited friends – headed for the Great Outdoors today as Harborough toasted the 'first day of freedom'.

People poured out of their front doors and made a beeline for their local parks and open spaces as the sun shone and temperatures climbed.

Outdoor pools, tennis courts and golf courses are all reopening as Covid lockdown rules finally start to ease.

Stepping out...Deb Durno, Annabel Beaty and Katherine Mail join up for a run in Welland Park on the first day where up to six people can meet outside. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Grassroots sport is also back after months of being banned while up to six people – or two full households – are given the green light to meet outside, including in back gardens, for the first time in four months.

And the Government has said that you can head to the beach and other beauty spots as the thermometer is set to hit a balmy 70F (21C) this afternoon and 76F (24C) tomorrow and Wednesday in some parts of the country.

These pictures, taken by Harborough Mail photographer Andy Carpenter, show runners, dog walkers and happy families delighted to be back out enjoying the late March fresh air and sunshine in Market Harborough’s picturesque Welland Park.

“It was brilliant to see so many people so jubilant, so ecstatic, to be back out and about after this very dark Covid winter that we’ve all had to endure and go through,” said Andy.

Welland Park on the first day where up to six people can meet outside. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“It was a real joy to see after months and months of being locked down.”

Cllr Phil King, the leader of Harborough council, said: “Bring on the spring and summer!

“The sun’s out, the blues skies are out – and the people of Harborough are getting back out!

“This is so positive, so uplifting for all of us after such a tough time that’s tested each and every one of us.”

Anyone for tennis...Welland Park on the first day where up to six people can meet outside. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

He added: “We’ve carried out over 30 million vaccinations in this country so far.

“That’s a phenomenal number – and a sensational achievement.

“This is literally a massive shot in the arm for all of us.

“We should all be very proud of this.

Harborough in bloom volunteers working in Welland Park. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“We are finally starting to defeat and combat the coronavirus.

“Now let’s fire up our local economy in Harborough.

“I’m really looking forward to our non-essential shops and services reopening on Monday April 12,” said Cllr King.

“I desperately need a haircut – and a new pair of shoes.

“But I’d also encourage people to go on being vigilant and sensible.

“We are in a much better position now than for months.

“But Covid still poses a real threat to us all.

“So please continue to wash your hands, wear a mask when you need to and keep your distance.

“Let’s look forward to a much better, brighter spring and summer – but don’t wreck it.”