Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned the Government will take action if social distancing measures are ignored as thousands flocked to the south coast on the hottest day of the year.
Mr Hancock told TalkRadio on Thursday the Government had the power to close public areas such as beaches if people flout safety restrictions.
It comes as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council declared a major incident after services were “completely overstretched” as huge numbers of visitors crowded onto the beaches during the day.
Covid-19 is “still in general circulation”
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty later urged people to follow social distancing rules in the hot weather or risk causing a spike in coronavirus.
He wrote on Twitter: “Covid-19 has gone down due to the efforts of everyone but is still in general circulation.
“If we do not follow social distancing guidance then cases will rise again.
“Naturally people will want to enjoy the sun but we need to do so in a way that is safe for all.”
In an interview with TalkRadio, Mr Hancock said he was “reluctant” to go down the route of shutting public spaces as “people have had a pretty tough lockdown”.
But he added that if there was a spike in the number of coronavirus cases “then we will take action”.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said extra police patrols had to be brought in following the “irresponsible” behaviour of crowds who gridlocked roads, dumped rubbish, abused refuse collectors and parked illegally.
Meanwhile, thousands of Liverpool fans flocked to Anfield on Thursday night to celebrate the club’s Premier League title.
Police have condemned the action, with assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden pointing out that Merseyside had been “disproportionately affected” by the coronavirus pandemic and its residents had a responsibility to prevent further cases.
He said: “The overwhelming majority of fans have recognised the fact that now is not the time to gather together to celebrate, and chose to mark the event safely. They are a credit to this city.
“Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the lockdown period, not everyone adhered to the regulations in place. Although the vast majority of celebrations were good natured, a large number of people chose to gather outside the stadium.”
Earlier, about 100 fans gathered outside the Main Stand at Anfield for when the final whistle blew on Thursday’s Chelsea v Manchester City match, securing Liverpool the title with seven games to spare.
“We’ve gone and won the league”
Fireworks went off and fans waved flags and sang: “We’ve gone and won the league.”
Within an hour of the result, thousands of fans had gathered outside the stadium, lighting red flares and singing football songs.
People, with children and dogs, continued to make their way across Stanley Park to get to the stadium.
Many fans were seen hugging and one man stood with his arm around a cardboard cut out of manager Jurgen Klopp.
Others carried flags and scarves while some fans brought crates of beer.
Many fans wore face masks for the gathering and shortly before 11pm, Merseyside Police announced road closures would be put in place.
Police officers could be seen in the area as fans celebrated but no attempts were made to disperse the good-natured crowd.
Liverpool City Council told fans to “have a great party” but maintain social distancing as they celebrated.
Behind closed doors
The Premier League restarted earlier this month after pausing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with games now played behind closed doors.
Several celebrities posted celebrations online after Thursday night’s result secured the title for Liverpool.
Comedian and Liverpool fan John Bishop tweeted: “Not how any of us would have planned it but thank you to those players and staff who have taken us back to the top.”
Liverpool fan and basketball star LeBron James celebrated the win by tweeting: “Premier League Champions!!! Let’s go!”
The Fault In Our Stars author John Green posted “I am in a puddle of tears” on his dedicated sports Twitter account.
Merseyside Police’s Mr Carden urged fans mark to occasion safely.
He said: “In the days ahead, we urge supporters to do the right thing and celebrate safely with members of your household and in your social bubble.
“By doing this you keep yourself, your family, friends and neighbours safe.”