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.
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.
Temperatures soared to 33.4C (92.12F) at Heathrow Airport in west London on Thursday, making it the hottest day of the year so far.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Friday the Government’s plans for air bridges, which will allow Britons to go on holiday to certain destinations without needing to quarantine for 14 days on their return, the Telegraph reported.
The first of these air bridges will allow holidaymakers to travel to “low-risk” European destinations, including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany, from July 4.
Henry Smith, Conservative chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group, said the plan was a “welcome first step” but urged the Prime Minister to widen the bridges to the whole of the EU.
He told the Telegraph: “EU countries have had a similar, if not better, coronavirus experience than us. I think that is the most straightforward and eloquent way to approach it.”
Walk-in centres for Covid-19 testing are also being set up to make it easier for people without cars to get tested for the virus.
Six centres are being trialled in Newcastle, Rochdale, Leeds, Brent, Newham and Slough, with the latter described as a hybrid drive and walk through.
The exact location of the centres has not been confirmed by officials but one is understood to be on a basketball court, and there have been reports they will spring up in empty shops and car parks.
A source at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said officials were working on “walk through testing sites in England for people without cars”.
The source said that previously the push was to have testing sites out of the way so there were not “huge” numbers of potentially infected people travelling into the centre of towns.
But they added that now incidence is lower, they can look at ways to safely provide testing “in the heart of communities”, in a way that is more easy and accessible to people.
The latest NHS Test and Trace figures show that 24% of people (5,062) who tested positive for Covid-19 between May 28 to June 17 and who had been transferred to the tracing system were not reached.
This number includes people who the service was unable to reach because there had been no response to text, email and call reminders. It also includes people who were reached but declined to give details of close contacts.
A total of 20,968 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the contact tracing system during the first three weeks of its operation, according to figures from the DHSC.
Of this total, 15,225 people (73%) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts.
During the first three weeks of Test and Trace, 113,925 people who had been identified as recent close contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reached through the tracing system.
This was 89% out of a total of 128,566 identified contacts.
The remaining 14,641 (11%) were identified as close contacts but were not reached.
The weekly figures on Test and Trace, which are subject to revision, currently show that in the seven days to June 17 a total of 82% of close contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reached and advised to self-isolate.
This compares with 91% of close contacts in both weeks one and two.