People in the UK must not treat this weekend as a “party” before the new “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday, a police union has warned.
The Police Federation said there was a “real risk” that the public would “take advantage of the current situation”.
The new rules limit gatherings to six people indoors and outdoors in England.
It comes as one scientist warned the UK was “on the edge of losing control” of the virus.
England’s new rule of six applies both indoors and outdoors and to all ages – although there are some exemptions, such as gatherings for work. Those who fail to follow the new rules can be fined by police – £100 for a first offence, doubling on each further offence up to £3,200.
In Scotland, socialising will be limited to a maximum of six people inside and outside – but unlike England they must be from two households, and children under 12 are exempt.
In Wales, also from Monday, it will be illegal for more than six people from an extended household to meet indoors – but up to 30 can still meet outdoors. Northern Ireland has not announced any rule changes.
With the introduction of the new rules in England and Wales delayed until Monday, John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, said: “There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.
“Using the current situation as an opportunity and excuse to party would be incredibly irresponsible and put pressure not only on policing, but potentially on the ambulance service and NHS.”