Britain’s biggest police force is warning people not to gather in large groups over the Easter weekend following an easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Forecasters said a “big swing” in weather conditions could bring gale-force winds and even snow to parts of the UK over the bank holiday, while parts of the South would hang on to warmer conditions for the longest.
The cooler temperatures could limit scenes of revelry seen in packed parks and beauty spots around the country during almost record-breaking March conditions earlier this week.
But the change in weather could tempt people to meet up inside, which is still banned under coronavirus regulations, except for those in the same household or support bubble.
While groups of six, or two households, are allowed to meet outside, the Metropolitan Police said larger gatherings, including house parties and illegal raves, will be shut down.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: “We cannot allow the selfish actions of a small minority of people to jeopardise the efforts of this city.
“We will continue to shut down house parties or dangerous raves quickly, taking enforcement action by handing out fines.
“We make no apology for our tough stance on shutting down those large gatherings which pose a serious risk to public health.”
The Met is expecting more protests in the capital over the weekend, which are now lawful providing organisers submit a risk assessment and take steps to ensure the gathering is safe.
But the force said: “Enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health.”
Among the planned demonstrations is a Kill the Bill rally against the Government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill due to take place in Finsbury Park on Friday afternoon, with similar events planned elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police sought to avoid a repeat of scenes played out across the country this week by introducing a 48-hour dispersal order for the city centre, to last until 3pm on Saturday.
It means officers can direct anyone acting anti-socially to leave the area.
Parts of the UK saw temperatures reach nearly 24C (75.2F) on Wednesday, with Weybourne, north Norfolk, leading the way at a peak of 23.9C (75F) – short of the nation’s hottest ever March temperature of 25.6C (78F), which was recorded in 1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire.
But the Met Office said temperatures would decline steadily and by Monday would struggle to reach double digits due to the country entering an “Arctic trough”.
Nicola Maxey, spokeswoman for the Met Office, said: “There are some blustery winds around, particularly along the east coast, as we go through the weekend.
“It’s a marked change from what we saw on Wednesday and by the end of Friday we’re really all in this cold air – we’re in an Arctic trough.”
Ms Maxey said that parts of the South would hang on to warmer temperatures for the longest but that by early next week the entire country would be in single figures.
On Saturday, temperatures in the South East and London are expected to be about 12C (53.6F) and, further north, Manchester and Leeds could see highs of 13C (55.4F) and 10C (50F) respectively.
But, by Monday, London may drop to 8C (46.4F), Manchester 7C (44.6F) and Leeds a chilly 5C (41F).
The RAC urged people to check their vehicles ahead of travelling over the Easter period.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “We anticipate a sharp rise in breakdowns as a result of a return to much colder weather over the next week.
“Cars whose batteries are on their last legs might finally fail as temperatures plummet.
“Those heading out would do well to make sure their vehicles are up to the task by checking oil, coolant and washer fluid levels as well as the condition and pressure of tyres.”
Ms Maxey added that a potential drop of 10 degrees in five days would be relevant for gardeners and farmers.
“People will have put out plants in the sunshine,” she said.
“Also for people in the farming industry, it’s the type of weather where you’ve got lambs in the field and quite strong winds and wind chill.
“It turns windy in the North from Sunday with gales possible in northern areas locally, and across northern isles, Scotland.
“We’re looking at possible gale force winds across the northern half and the west side of the UK.”