Drinkers heading for the pub for the first time in three months have been warned they face jail if they get out of hand.
NHS staff are braced for one of their busiest days of the year after the government gave the green light for boozers in England to reopen from 6am.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he plans to go for a pint with his brother Chris today, but said thugs who go too far will be severely punished.
And he warned that Covid-19 must be taken seriously, saying he “got off lightly” after contracting the virus.
Mr Hancock told the Daily Mail he believes he had it less severely because he is slim.
He said: “For two days I couldn’t swallow, eat or drink.
“It was like having shards of glass in your throat.”
The Health Secretary, who is six feet tall and weighs 12 stone 7lbs – said: “Thin people get through it better than fat people.”
He revealed he has lost three close friends to Covid-19 – economics professor Deepak Lal, Sir Peter Sinclair and British envoy Steven Dick.
“This really matters for me,” he said. “This isn’t just another disease and it isn’t just a policy problem. I feel the effects of it really personally. People I admire and respect have died. Friends. I got off lightly.”
Mr Hancock warned that he won’t hold back from putting areas back in lockdown, having already done so in Leicester.
“Of course, the law is there for a reason,” he said.
“The Government would not shrink from shutting pubs again where there was irresponsible behaviour.”
NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens has also called for restraint, saying doctors and nurses do not want to be dealing with “drunk and disorderly” patients.
It comes as health service workers and police prepare for what could be their busiest night of the year.
Pubs and restaurants in England were forced to close in March, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given them the green light to reopen.
Businesses in Wales and Scotland remain closed as devolved governments are taking a more cautious approach, with the Prime Minister branded reckless by critics.
Drinkers have been told they must stick to social distancing rules to prevent coronavirus spreading, as worrying figures show the R rate could have passed 1 in London and is near to 1 in four other regions.
Experts from the government’s SAGE committee believe the reproduction rate could be nearly 1 in Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire, the South East and the South West.
If the R rate goes above 1, it means the number of Covid-19 cases is on the rise, as each individual with the disease is infecting more than one other person.
In order for the disease to be in retreat, the R rate needs to be below 1, but scientists fear a surge of new cases as restrictions are eased.
Across the UK, the government says the estimated Covid-19 reproduction number is between 0.7 and 0.9.