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Under the new, eased lockdown measures, it’s now possible to meet up to six people outside or in your garden – so long as you stay two metres apart.
While there have been a multitude of ways to stay connected with video calls, writing letters and people dropping off food parcels to each other, this is the first time that people have been in each other’s company for more than a couple of minutes since the nation was placed under lockdown in March.
With the rules starting to relax, people are sharing the joy of seeing their loved ones for the first time in months – and also their socially-distanced snaps!
‘Nothing gets in the way of a mother’s love’
Jenny Lau, 35, a brand marketing and communications specialist who lives in east London had a socially-distanced family meeting outside her 74-year-old mum’s home for the first time since lockdown.
“She lives a short train ride away in south east London, but even so my family agreed I should stay away until it felt safer,” she tells Huffpost UK.
“My older brother has been a saint, living with and looking after her. We have been extra cautious, having seen the impact of SARS in Hong Kong where we used to live. Mum is, on the contrary, much more relaxed. She protested about being put under ‘house arrest’. She’s been fussing about me all through lockdown and found ways to send me huge bags of food.
“Nothing can get in the way of a mother’s love. I was pleased that she looked healthier and upbeat. Even though I’m the one who should be looking after her.”
Oliver Stevenson, 26, who works in marketing for a graphic design college met his best friend of 13 years at his local park near his flat. “After living in Paris and Vegas for a few years, my mate now lives down the road,” he explains. “This was one of the longest times we’ve not seen each other for!”
‘Saying hello and goodbye felt wrong without a hug’
Daisy Meager, 28, a journalist who lives in east London, met her south London-based parents in a park near her flat, who planned a drive when non-essential trips were given the green light. The picture below was taken by them – at a distance.
“My family are close and although we’ve been chatting, messaging and video calling, nothing is the same as a face to face conversation, uninterrupted by bad WiFi connections and distractions,” says Meagher.
“When I met them in the park, it was weirdly ordinary and extraordinary to see them. They’d brought snacks for me (as usual) but everything was wiped down with an antibacterial wipe before being chucked at me.
“Saying hello and goodbye felt wrong without a hug. But as my mum messaged me after: ‘It felt like we had a good old natter.’ Although, it was really strange talking and being happy to see them with everything going on right now.”
‘Everyone was jubilant beyond words!’
Riyaz Ikram, 38, a business development manager for a travel technology company in Dubai tells HuffPost UK: “My childhood friend’s sons are best friends with my sons – that’s how we all know each other.”
He adds: “They were absolutely thrilled to see each other, but they couldn’t hug each other as they respected the code of social distancing. After a while, they started to play, race, and run on the grass non-stop!”
‘The proximity of friends is very soothing’
Dr Anna Sulan Masing, 38, writer, editor and academic based in east London celebrated Gawai Dayak, a harvest celebration for indigenous people of Sarawak, outside in her communal garden with her friends.
“Every year I have a party and cook rendang for friends. We eat durian, drink tuak (rice wine) and go for dinner whenever my family is in London, but of course, that couldn’t happen,” she explains.
“My friends walked an hour each way, to get to us and I’ve known them both for over 15 years and it was the first time seeing them both since mid-March. The proximity of friends in real life is very soothing – the way you can read an expression and properly laugh.”
She adds: “On Zoom, you’re very polite, you wait for people to talk and everything needs to be super important, but it was really lovely to talk about the little things. It was quite emotional and I felt really grateful to have them in my life to be able to share an important day. It also made me super sad as I don’t know when I’ll see some of my family again.”
‘I felt like I was a teenager all over again’
James Davies, 29, is a camera assistant who moved back to his family home in Wales at the start of lockdown.
“It was the first time I saw more than one of my mates in 11 weeks! It felt good to see familiar faces, weirdly nostalgic” he explains.
“I’m nearly 30, yet I’m sitting outside my parents’ house trying not to make too much noise with my friends, as my dad had work the day and was aware we were getting quite loud drinking outside. I felt like I was a teenager all over again.”
‘That little bit of normal was really needed’
Content editor Ally Sinyard, 30, enjoyed a distant ice cream together with her best friend Catherine at Hampstead Heath on the hottest day of the year.
“We’ve been friends since meeting at university over 10 years ago. We’ve been having virtual coffees on video call and weekly pub quizzes with the other uni girls since lockdown started, but this is the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other in real life,” she explains. “Normally, we’d meet for dinner or go to the cinema or both, we’d squeeze each other into really busy schedules, but I think this is the first time we’ve just met in a park and talked and relaxed.”