For some of those sunning themselves in London’s St James’s Park on Saturday afternoon, discussions ongoing just yards away at Downing Street on the tightening of national restrictions in England are at once both “worrying” and “inevitable”.
Couples and friends meeting for picnics and catch-ups told BBC News conflicting and confusing advice on what they can and cannot do during the pandemic runs alongside a general feeling of resignation over the prospect of national measures being tightened.
Ruth and Chris Parker, from Wigan but on a week’s holiday after working non-stop since March, think the difference between social distancing in the north and south of England has been “stark”.
“We were queuing for a pub in Putney last night and we had to just leave it,” Chris, 48, says.
“There was no social distancing at all,” Ruth, 49, adds. “We ended up in Wagamamas, which was pretty well organised.”
‘Lockdown is coming’
The couple say they think there has been a change in attitudes in the North West since a marked rise in coronavirus cases led to tighter local restrictions.
Wigan is one of the few areas in Greater Manchester to see local restrictions on households and movement lifted.
“People are now taking it pretty seriously there,” says Chris, who conducted much of his work as a church minister virtually during the first lockdown.
“We do seem a bit better at social distancing,” Ruth, a former music teacher, adds.
A second lockdown has them worried, but Chris believes “if it has to happen, it has to happen”.
“I think a national two-week lockdown is coming but not quite the full lockdown we had.”
“It’s not ideal,” is Tom Duncan’s view as he enjoys a meal deal with his partner Aisha.
The 21-year-old finance workers say they do not want to see another full lockdown with just a few permitted reasons for leaving home.
“Closing pubs and bars early seems fine,” Tom says, “But not being unable to see anyone again.”
Drinking and distancing
“It’s going to have to happen as people don’t care - people don’t see it as a threat,” Aisha adds.
“You can see when people have had a drink they don’t socially distance.”
The pair say they are now able to go back to their offices if they book a slot - but working from home has its advantages.
It also means a second lockdown “doesn’t really affect us,” Aisha says. “There’s pros and cons to it.”
Nicola Evans, 24, who works for an engineering firm, says a second lockdown might not be the worst thing if it helps protect vulnerable people.
“I feel like, why not? If it’s keeping people safe,” she says.
“It’s the way it is. Though I’d rather be able to see people.
“I’m working from home so it doesn’t really affect me - as long as I’m able to get out of the house during the day.
“I’ve not gone back to the office yet, it keeps being postponed.”
‘Still paying rent’
But for her friend Emmelia Georgio, 24, from Cyprus, the prospect of a second lockdown would throw a spanner into the final year of her Masters in dance movement psychotherapy.
“This year is already going to be very different,” she says of her studies.
“It’s a mix of online and in-person learning now, but I worry what would happen in a second lockdown.
“If there is a second lockdown it’s hard to see how it is managed.”
“We still have to pay fees and rent - and you think, ‘what’s the point in paying’ if a lockdown happens,” she adds.
There is little doubt about what will happen next for Antonia Brown and Ioanna Gkoutna - a second lockdown is “inevitable”.
Ioanna, 21, arrived a week ago from her native Greece to begin a Masters at the University of Oxford.
“Compared to home, nobody here is taking things seriously,” she says. “I was really surprised when I came here. You’re in Tescos, say, and so many people are not wearing masks and nobody is challenging them. The staff are not wearing masks.”
Ioanna - from a part of Greece not covered by quarantine rules - thinks enforcement is crucial to any future lockdown.
“In Greece there is lots of enforcement of the rules,” she says. “I myself phoned the police when a man refused to wear a mask at the beach - if I did that here, what would even happen?”
Antonia, 22, from London, says “London needs to wake up” to the coronavirus once more.
“We’re now talking about locking down harder but they had the audacity to say ‘get back to work’.”
“We’re running before we can walk,” she adds.
“They’re telling us to get out and spend money, and now the rates are going back up.”
“Unless they enforce it, it won’t make a difference,” Ioanna adds, “I’ve been [in the UK] for a week and haven’t seen the police once.”
Just as Ioanna finishes speaking, a police officer passes on a bicycle taking a keen interest in those gathered for picnics in the park.
“Well, he’s here now I guess.”