Christmas family celebrations in the UK will be broken up by officers if they break lockdown rules, police said.
West Midlands Police Commissioner David Jamieson said officers will investigate reports of rule-breaking over the holidays, and he fears that riots could be sparked by the enforcement.
"If we think there's large groups of people gathering where they shouldn't be, then police will have to intervene. If, again, there's flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce. It's not the police's job to stop people enjoying their Christmas. However, we are there to enforce the rules that the government makes, and if the government makes those rules then the government has to explain that to the public," Jamieson said.
The country is using three-tier labeling system to identify regional hotspots for coronavirus spread. West Midlands is currently under Tier 2 restrictions, which means people cannot mix with any other household.
Jamieson fears civil unrest could boil over in his region because of heavy-handed police forces enforcing harsh restrictions.
"We're sitting on a time bomb here. We're getting very near the stage where you could see a considerable explosion of frustration and energy. Things are very on the edge in a lot of communities and it wouldn't take very much to spark off unrest, riots, damage," Jamieson said.
John Edmunds, a government scientific adviser, said the idea that "we can carry on as we are" and have a typical Christmas season "is wishful thinking in the extreme."
"The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts," Edmunds said.