The public should try to avoid portraying people as morally good or bad in their adherence to measures as rules change in the coming weeks, psychologists at the University of Bath said.
They said packed beaches in the UK heatwave and the criticism such images drew from others were a sign of mixed messaging when it comes to the relaxation of the rules and different interpretations by different people.
With the significant easing in the near future as hospitality and tourism sectors reopen, ensuring compliance with the guidance will increasingly rely on informal, social policing between individuals, the researchers said.
In a paper published in the British Journal Of Social Psychology they said the strict March lockdown, which was backed up by new laws, meant most people stuck to the same rules in terms of isolation and distancing.
But how people interpret more "ambiguous" public health messages moving forward could lead to increased tensions between groups over the summer, they added.
New challenges ahead include the issue of morally blaming individuals for the impact of their behaviour on the pandemic, which researchers say could detract from a necessary debate around whether guidelines are fit for purpose and how they affect infection rates.
Lead researcher, Annayah Prosser, said: "Now that lockdown is easing, and policy is becoming more ambiguous, many practices now need to be negotiated on an interpersonal level.
"For example, at the height of lockdown you didn't need to decline an invitation to a social gathering, because it was technically against the law.
"Now, if you decline an invitation, you could be perceived as rude, or as a 'do-gooder' who thinks they're better than everyone else."
She said the main recommendation is that people avoid portraying others as morally "good" or "bad" for their actions, explaining this could lead to tensions when cohesion is needed.
She added: "People may have complex reasons for their behaviour that may not be visible on sight or through a short social media post.
"These choices are tough and simplifying behaviour as 'good' or 'bad' without knowing the full story could lead to increased tensions and polarisation at a time when communities need to work together constructively to address the crisis."