FINE weather brought people down to the seafront over the weekend ahead of new social distancing rules banning gatherings of more than six people.

On the beach in Brighton on Sunday afternoon, temperatures reached 21 degrees celcius. Most people appeared to be limiting themselves to small groups even before the new measures had come into force.

In Worthing, beachgoers were photographed on the promenade making the most of the sun.

The new rules, which come into effect today, will see social gatherings of more than six people indoors or outdoors outlawed in England. Previous rules allowed groups of up to 30 to meet.

Anyone who fails to comply could face a £100 fine, which will double on each offence up to £3,200.

The government introduced the measures last week as the R number – the reproduction number of coronavirus transmission – climbed above one.

According to government advisers, the last time R was above one was in early March.

The Government has been warned it needs to act fast to stop coronavirus cases growing out of control, with a delay of even a few days potentially “dangerous”.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine, Imperial College London, advises the government. He said a “trickle” of cases can turn into a “cascade”, adding that if people do not abide by the “rule of six” now then the country faces going back into “hard lockdown”.

His comments come as concerns grow over an increase in Covid-19 cases in care homes, prompting the Government to send an alert to care providers to highlight the rising rates and to call for action.

The letter, which was sent on Friday, urges care bosses to “take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks”, pointing out that in the last three days there had been an increase in notifications of coronavirus cases in care homes.

It is thought that fresh measures to curb the virus could soon be introduced if the crisis continues to worsen.

The Sunday Telegraph says Prime Minister Boris Johnson is believed to be considering introducing a 10pm or 11pm curfew on restaurants, bars and pubs if local measures are unable to bring the spread of the virus under control.

The move stems from fears that people who have been drinking fail to adhere to social distancing measures.