Home Secretary Priti Patel has demanded police break up big street parties or raves this weekend as lockdown starts to ease.
The top Tory called for officers to take action as pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels all reopen on the same day across England – threatening scenes of carnage.
Despite the widespread reopenings, the government is still telling people to meet only in groups of up to six people – or two households of any number – outdoors.
Indoors, two households at a time can meet outdoors from Saturday in a socially-distanced way.
The legal ban on gatherings of more than six people outdoors is due to be revoked, and replaced with “guidance” where people can no longer be punished by police.
But government officials have said there will be an exception to this – they say gatherings of more than 30 people will still be largely banned by law.
Government insiders have dubbed the law the “rave clause” and say it is deliberately designed to disrupt big parties of the like seen in Brixton and Manchester recently.
Speaking to John Pienaar on Times Radio Drive, Priti Patel said police would act over street parties.
“We saw some ugly scenes – last week in Brixton we saw some sheer thuggery,” she said.
“I do think quite frankly where people are so publicly and fragrantly breaching the social distancing guidelines, gathering in mass gatherings, that is doing a great deal of harm when it comes to public health.”
Ms Patel stressed police have operational independence, but asked if officers should break up such gatherings, she replied: “Absolutely I do. These aren’t sort of quiet parties.
“These parties, basically, have had hundreds of people gathering, doing very little to contain the spread of the virus.
“But also we’ve seen violence, vandalism and disorder and disorderly behaviour.
“It’s for the police to absolutely crack down on those flouting those restrictions.”
Ms Patel urged people in England to be “very cautious, stay alert” this weekend despite lockdown easing.
The exception to the easing is Leicester, where none of the changes this weekend will apply.