The national 'stay at home' rule will end on Monday 29 March as some restrictions are carefully eased, but many still remain in place.

Residents will be encouraged to instead stay local, work from home if possible and minimise all travel, avoiding the busiest times and routes to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Up to six people from separate households will be able to meet in outdoor settings such as parks and private gardens, or a maximum of two households, regardless of the number of people. This means friends and family members will be able to meet outside and sit down for a socially distanced coffee or have a picnic in the park, which is extended from the current restriction of meeting one person outdoors. However, it is important to remember you should only meet people from other households outdoors and continue to only gather with your own household or bubble indoors.

All outdoor children’s activities and outdoor parent and child groups can also resume with a maximum of 15 people, excluding children aged under five. Outdoor sports facilities, such as riding arenas, golf courses, outdoor gyms and tennis and basketball courts, will also be able to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. These venues can be utilised with up to six people or two households in one group, and no spectators are currently allowed.

In the case of formally organised sport, there can be a larger number of participants provided COVID-secure measures such as booking systems, risk assessments, one way systems and social distancing are in place and adhered to. Indoor facilities such as changing rooms shouldn’t be used at this time, but toilets can be accessed. Informal sport groups will also have to work to ensure they are COVID-secure.

The main way of spreading COVID-19 is through close contact with an infected person, so remember to wash or sanitise your hands regularly and wear a face covering when necessary to stop the spread. When exercising outdoors, people should only use their own equipment and keep a safe distance from people outside of your household or support bubble at all times.

The restrictions being carefully eased come as Warrington’s testing programme has expanded to include two main symptom-free testing sites at the Halliwell Jones Stadium and Grappenhall Cricket Club (moving to Grappenhall Parish Centre from 1 April) and three ‘pop up’ sites at Croft Youth and Activity Centre, Burtonwood Community Centre and Lymm Village Hall.

One in three people have coronavirus without displaying any symptoms, so the symptom-free testing sites will help to identify and isolate cases in the community. Residents who have to leave their home are encouraged to visit these testing sites regularly to ensure that they do not have the virus, and are unknowingly spreading it to others.

Thara Raj, Warrington's director of public health, said: “We’ve all worked hard over the past 12 months to bring down the number of COVID cases in Warrington. However, in recent weeks, as we’ve started to move into the roadmap out of lockdown, we’ve seen a rise in coronavirus cases locally. It’s important we don’t let our guard down and continue with the efforts to make sure we are not spreading the virus as we start to head out of the house more and meet people outdoors. It is so tempting to want to give your friends a welcome hug but it is still not safe to do so.

“The restrictions are another welcome step towards normality, but we need to take things slowly as we’re not out of the woods yet. ‘Staying local’ means staying in Warrington or your local village or neighbourhood wherever possible. We can hopefully enjoy a few more freedoms with this set of eased restrictions, but please remember to stick to the ‘hands, face, space’ basics and I would also encourage people to keep staying at home if they can.”

“If you are feeling unwell and think you may have coronavirus, or you are displaying any symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and book an NHS test by visiting gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119. If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you must isolate for 10 days, as this will help to reduce transmission of the virus.

“Remember you are not on your own and if you need any support or help you can contact the fantastic Warrington Voluntary Action’s Good Neighbourhood scheme by emailing hello@warringtonva.org.uk or by calling 01925 246881.”

For more information about the restrictions in Warrington, visit https://www.warrington.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-warrington.