04:44PM, Wednesday 31 March 2021
Family and friends in Maidenhead cut off from each other over the winter have been making the most of the relaxed coronavirus restrictions this week.
People are now able to meet in groups of up to six people or two households outside, including in private gardens. Outdoor sports were also allowed to resume on Monday.
Parks, including Kidwells, were basking in sunshine earlier this week as people met up for socially-distanced picnics and catch-ups.
This was the first time that groups have been able to meet like this since before Christmas, with Windsor and Maidenhead enduring the highest tier of restrictions over Christmas and New Year, before entering into a third lockdown in early January.
Paul Samuels, trustee of the Maidenhead charity Men’s Matters, which helps improve the social lives of older men, said that there is more optimism now that rules have been relaxed.
“For those who have got family further afield, it has been upsetting to not be able to see them – particularly if you have got a newborn grandchild. It has been heart-breaking,” Paul said.
“Now that things are starting to open up again, it is more optimistic. There is a greater freedom which is very welcome by the guys at Men’s Matters, and some will be getting out now and feeling more confident when they are meeting people outside.”
He added: “Some of our guys were feeling very down and isolated, detached from what was going on. The fact that people are starting to go out, and there is more energy in society as well, that has a positive effect on their wellbeing.”
The charity will still be communicating over Zoom and via weekly phone calls as many older members are still vulnerable, Paul said.
He hoped that face-to-face meetings may able to resume from May or June, at the new Maidenhead Community Centre in Marlow Road.
“We have not got a definitive date,” Paul said.
The Windsor and Maidenhead Council’s managing director Duncan Sharkey tweeted this week urging people enjoy the borough, but to remain cautious.
The authority has launched a new social media campaign to reopen the area safely.
“Now we’re out and about more we really want people to explore the Royal Borough, but don’t let your guard down,” Mr Sharkey said.
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