LOCKDOWN restrictions have been eased, with Worcestershire residents now able to see their friends and family again.

From today (Monday, March 29), larger groups of up to six people, from any number of households, or a group of any size from up to two households, are allowed to gather in parks and gardens in England, according to Government guidelines.

This ends the “stay at home” order, but people are being encouraged to “stay local” where possible.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts are also permitted to reopen, with organised adult and children’s sport – including grassroots football – able to return.

Childcare and supervised activities outdoors for all children will also be allowed.

Shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens can reopen from April 12 at the earliest.

Outdoor sports clubs in England are also preparing for an influx of players, with swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and football pitches getting ready.

The nation has been warned not to “squander the gains” made against coronavirus ahead of a major easing of the lockdown to allow greater freedoms outside.

NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said that Covid-19 still has the capacity to “wreak more havoc and ill health on a significant scale”, citing concerns over new variants.

He issued the warning ahead of groups of up to six, or two households, being able to socialise in parks and gardens once more as outdoor sports facilities reopen and the stay-at-home order ends in England on Monday.

Earlier, Boris Johnson said he is wary of the prospect of rising coronavirus infection rates, but sees “absolutely nothing in the data” to halt the easing of the lockdown.

The Prime Minister acknowledged cases could again spiral as restrictions are relaxed but said the “key difference” this time is that the rise in prevalence should be “sufficiently mitigated” by the successful vaccine rollout.