Britain's coronavirus response is being led by a 'Dad's Army' of well-paid people with no experience, two leading scientists have said as they called on Number 10 to stop panicking and scrap the controversial rule of six.
Professors Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, accused Boris Johnson of making a series of 'catastrophic' errors since returning to work in April, following his own battle with the killer virus.
The pair warned Downing Street's move to limit gatherings - which came into force today - was 'disturbing' and had 'no scientific evidence to back it up', arguing that it may well end up having 'major consequences'.
And in urging ministers to get on with life because containing the spread of Covid-19 is 'unrealistic', they warned the government's 'roll of the dice' could tip the public over the edge and said it should be 'binned'.
Britons enjoyed a final group pint together last night ahead of the new rule, with the government telling families to shop their neighbours if they break the regulations. Police can fine people up to £3,200 if they disobey the policy.
Boris Johnson has been 'beset by anxieties doubts and fear,' experts have warned over Rule of Six legislation that begins today
Writing in The Telegraph, Professor Heneghan and Professor Jefferson said: 'It is a disturbing decision that has no scientific evidence to back it up, and may well end up having major social consequences.'
The column slammed the Prime Minister's handling of the pandemic, warning he has been 'beset by anxieties, doubts and fear'.
And it said he has made a series of errors since returning to work in April, following his own battle with the killer virus.
The two experts claimed those leading the UK's response to the pandemic were 'little more than a Dad's Army of highly paid individuals with little or no experience of the job at hand'.
And they added: 'The rule of six policy should be binned.
'When Boris Johnson returned to work in April after his brush with coronavirus, he warned that lockdown restrictions must remain to prevent a second wave.
'Ever since, beset by anxieties, doubts and fear, and surrounded by a platoon of advisors, the PM has made one cautious, catastrophic error after another.
'Last week's roll of the dice with the 'rule of six'' could well be the policy that tips the British public over the edge, for it is a disturbing decision that has no scientific evidence to back it up and may well end up having major social consequences.'
Professor Tom Jefferson (left) and Professor Carl Heneghan (right) have criticised the Government's decision to enforce stricter lockdown rules
The number of people that can attend social gatherings have been slashed across the UK following a rise in coronavirus cases.
New rules were implemented in England, Wales and Scotland from Monday.
However, they are being applied slightly differently in each devolved administration.
From Monday, gatherings of more than six people are illegal.
The rules apply across England to all ages and in any setting either indoors and outdoors, at home or a pub.
A single household or support bubble that is larger than six will still be able to gather.
Covid-secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality settings can still hold more than six in total.
Education and work settings are not affected by the new rules.
Weddings and funerals can still go ahead with a limit of 30 people if conducted in a Covid-secure way.
People in Wales are only able to meet in groups of six or under indoors and must all belong to the same extended household group.
Up to four households can join together to form an extended household.
But, unlike in England, children under 12 are exempt and will not count towards that total.
Also unlike in England, people can still meet up in groups of up to 30 outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained.
The changes do not apply in Caerphilly county borough due to its rise in Covid-19 cases.
A maximum of six people from two households are allowed to meet together in Scotland.
Just like in England, the new limit applies when people meet in restaurants, pubs and beer gardens, as well as in homes.
However, children under the age of 12, who are part of the two households meeting do not count towards the limit of six people, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
There are 'some limited exceptions', covering organised sports and places of worship.
Up to 20 people can attend weddings, civil partnerships and funerals, as well as receptions and wakes, which is more stringent than both England and Wales.
Northern Ireland has not announced any changes to how many people can gather. However, localised coronavirus restrictions were introduced in Belfast and Ballymena.
People from two or more households in these areas are not able to meet in private settings.
There are a number of limited exceptions, including childcare provision and households that have formed a social bubble with another.
No more than six people, from no more than two households, are allowed to meet in private gardens.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
In Northern Ireland, the number of people who can gather indoors in a private home was already reduced from 10 people from four households to six people from two