People living in COVID hotspots should "think carefully" about new freedoms that came in this week, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has said.
From Monday 17 May, up to six people, or two households, have been allowed to meet indoors.
Also, indoor hospitality – pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls, children play areas, hotels, B&Bs, indoor exercise classes – have been allowed.
When asked at a briefing if he would advise people in areas such as Bolton with high coronavirus rates against taking advantage of the changes in lockdown rules this week, he said: "I would advise the residents in those areas to think very carefully about the freedoms they have, weigh up the risks and be very cautious."
England’s deputy chief medical officer added at the Downing Street news conference: "If it is possible to do something outside, better to do it outside.
"If it is possible to do something with smaller numbers, with people you know rather than multiple new contacts, it’s better to do that. Take it steady."
He went on: "The government has given people freedoms to start to make these judgments for themselves.
"And I understand that we can’t live for years and years on end with rules, people will have to learn to manage these risks from COVID for themselves because this is not going to go away in the short term, medium term and probably the long term."