Chris Whitty issues worrying warning after pictures of packed Dorset beaches
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned the Government will take action if social distancing measures are ignored after 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.
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.