Police will be stepping up their patrols this weekend to ensure social distancing guidelines are upheld.

With the warm weather expected to continue, the PSNI says there will be an increased presence at beauty spots in Northern Ireland.

There will also be a focus on resorts and transport hubs.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said officers will “continue to engage, explain and encourage people to make the right choices”.

However he added that they will “enforce when necessary”.

While a number of coronavirus lockdown restrictions have now been eased, ACC Todd said there is still a need for people to stay safe.

“I understand that as time goes on, and with the current spell of good weather, some people may be tempted to get out and about and make the most of the sunshine,” he said.

“However, as a police service, our key role is to support our public health colleagues and the Executive to ensure we all play our part in stopping the spread of the virus.

“The latest data available shows that the ‘R-number’, which was falling, has actually increased again as restrictions have been eased.

“This means that every one of us needs to make informed and sensible decisions about our conduct over the coming days to ensure that we are protecting our own health and the health of others.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said the battle against Covid-19 is finely balanced.

“Another weekend is upon us and the weather forecast is very good," he said. "That brings with it the risk that people will flood outdoors and forget the social distancing rules that have saved countless lives.

“I am therefore urging everyone to keep doing the right thing. Keep your distance and keep washing your hands.

“Enjoy the weekend by all means – but act responsibly at all times.

“Don’t ever underestimate Covid-19. It still poses a very deadly threat to you and to those you care about. We can beat this virus - but only if we keep taking it seriously and stay united against it.”

The RNLI has reminded the public that lifeguards are currently not on beaches.

“As we move to a gradual relaxing of restrictions and we experience the good weather, we expect many people to be eager to visit the coast,” said Karl O’Neill from the charity.

“We ask those who are visiting beaches to continue to be aware of the inherent dangers and to avoid taking risks.

“The RNLI’s water safety campaign is advising people to keep their family safe when they are at the coast, avoid using inflatables and if they see anyone in trouble, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Meanwhile, the environment minister’s department has launched a campaign warning of the dangers of swimming in disused quarries.

Edwin Poots said: “Quarries are not playgrounds.

“Quarry lakes in particular pose considerable risk as they are often much colder than rivers, lakes and reservoirs as they can be fed by water sources that originate deep underground.

“A sudden plunge into cold water initiates a gasp response, which can cause drowning within seconds.

“Quarry water really is a stone cold killer. My message is clear. Stay out. Stay alive.”