Last chance to mingle: Revellers enjoy night out on the town 24 hours before ...

Revellers enjoyed a boozy final night out this evening 24 hours before a new ban on mixing hits several areas in the north of England.

Liverpool, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Warrington will all be affected by the new rules, which ban people from meeting up in any indoor settings, including homes and pubs. 

And young people in Liverpool enjoyed a final night on Thursday night before the new restrictions come in. 

The latest restrictions for Warrington and the Liverpool City Region, which includes Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral come into force on Saturday morning, at one minute past midnight. 

The restrictions for Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will also come into force at the same time as those for Liverpool. 

More than a third of the UK population is now affected by some form of coronavirus restriction, as further measures are announced for the north of England. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said it is recommended that people do not attend professional or amateur sporting events as spectators.

Tuesday's update of the rolling seven-day rate of new cases of Covid-19 for every local authority area in England put Burnley at the top of the list.

Burnley had the highest rate in England, with 279 new cases recorded in the seven days to September 26, the equivalent of 313.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Boozy revellers leave the pubs in Liverpool this evening - 24 hours before new coronavirus restrictions come in limiting mixing in any indoor settings - including pubs

Boozy revellers leave the pubs in Liverpool this evening - 24 hours before new coronavirus restrictions come in limiting mixing in any indoor settings - including pubs

Liverpool, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Warrington will all be affected by the new rules - and these people enjoyed one last night out before the restrictions came in

Liverpool, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Warrington will all be affected by the new rules - and these people enjoyed one last night out before the restrictions came in 

The latest restrictions for Warrington and the Liverpool City Region, which includes Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral come into force on Saturday morning, at one minute past midnight. The restrictions for Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will also come into force at the same time as those for Liverpool

The latest restrictions for Warrington and the Liverpool City Region, which includes Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral come into force on Saturday morning, at one minute past midnight. The restrictions for Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will also come into force at the same time as those for Liverpool

This is up sharply from 164.2 in the seven days to September 19, while Knowsley has the second highest rate, up from 177.6 to 283.0 with 427 new cases.

People living in these areas have also been told not to meet other households and they are allowed essential travel only.

Similar rules have been imposed in locations including Rossendale, Hyndburn, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Chorley, Wyre, Fylde, Lancaster, Ribble Valley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton and Warrington since September 22.

Anyone living in areas including Bury, Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford, Blackpool, Stockport and Wigan must also not mix with people outside of their household.

They have also been told to avoid socialising with other households in public venues.

Stricter measures that had been in place for Bolton are due to be eased in line with the rest of Greater Manchester, allowing for hospitality venues to open under the same conditions as the rest of the region, such as table service and a 10pm curfew. 

Independent Andy Preston lashed out after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the town, along with Liverpool, Hartlepool and Warrington would face the same curbs as the North East

Independent Andy Preston lashed out after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the town, along with Liverpool, Hartlepool and Warrington would face the same curbs as the North East

Earlier, it emerged that Boris Johnson is facing a coronavirus revolt in the north as the elected mayor of Middlesbrough vowed to 'defy' new lockdown measures, accusing ministers of 'ignorance' after they brought in strict new measures for its population.

Independent Andy Preston lashed out after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the town, along with Liverpool, Hartlepool and Warrington would face the same curbs as the North East. 

In a video message Mr Preston said they went further than he and other local politicians had lobbied for, and in what is believed to be a first for a local politician, rejected the measures outlined in the Commons. 

Middlesbrough and Hartlepool councils had asked for a ban on households mixing in their own homes. But Mr Hancock announced it would also be illegal for households in those boroughs to mix in a public setting such as a pub.

'I have to tell you I think this measure has been introduced based on factual inaccuracies and a monstrous and frightening lack of communication, and ignorance,' Mr Preston said in a video posted on Twitter.

'There's no way people are going to stay at home': Furious residents of Middlesbrough join mayor in protest against lockdown measures 

Furious locals in Middlesbrough today backed mayor Andy Preston in his defiance of the Government's new coronavirus restrictions.   

Sarah Best, 28, who owns the Sherlock's and Dr Watson's bars in the North Yorkshire town, said she had feared she would have to close her doors in as little as three weeks under the latest rules. 

She said: 'When people can only go the pub with members of their own household it's obviously going to reduce trade even more. 

'The 10pm curfew has been bad enough and it doesn't work. People gather in the street and can't get taxis because everyone has to leave at once. 

Landlady Sarah Best, 28, said she had feared she would have to close her doors in as little as three weeks under the latest rules

Landlady Sarah Best, 28, said she had feared she would have to close her doors in as little as three weeks under the latest rules

'We're just hanging on and if things don't change I might have to close the doors in three weeks, that's how bad it is. I really think customers will rebel, especially if the mayor is backing us. 

'We'll listen to Andy, we get more support and back from the mayor than we do from government.  How do you enforce this rule anyway? I'm not going to be asking customers for utility bills.' 

Nicola Brogan and Paula Hoare, both 27, added the rules are now 'so confused that it's impossible to enforce' them.  

'It's crazy that we can't see relatives who need to see people to stay in touch but you can come down to the pub,' Ms Hoare said.

Nicola Brogan

Paula Hoare

Nicola Brogan (left) and Paula Hoare (right), both 27, added the rules are now 'so confused that it's impossible to enforce' them

'The mayor is sticking up for the town where there is already massive poverty.' 

Ms Brogan added: 'I worked with the mayor on a charity project and he's a very well liked and respected guy. I think people will listen to what he thinks more than the government.'

Liam Watson, 24, said: 'There's no way people are going to stay at home and not go to the pub when you've got the mayor saying 'defy the ban.'

'Good for him. He's sticking up for people and trying to stop businesses going bust and if it comes down to it I'd rather listen to our local leader than some muppet at Westminster. They don't know anything about us.' 

However, Craig Kevin, 47, who works in a fast food stall, said Mr Preston had merely 'added to the confusion' with his video statement.    

'Andy Preston has added to the confusion and I think people will just decide to carry on as normal because they don't actually believe any of them,' he said. 

'Boris Johnson didn't even know the rules as they apply to the North East when he was asked the other day so what chance do the public have, especially when national and local Government are saying different things.'

Nathaniel Lawton, 42, was today having a drink with friends outside the town's Swatter's Carr

Nathaniel Lawton, 42, was today having a drink with friends outside the town's Swatter's Carr

Nathaniel Lawton, 42, was today having a drink with friends outside the town's Swatter's Carr. 

He said: 'It's funny to see Andy Preston saying 'defy the law' when he was the one who was asking for stricter rules in the first place. 

'He decided MIddlesbrough needed restrictions but he hasn't got the ones he wanted which he should maybe have seen coming. 

'There will always be those who adhere to the rules and those who don't. No matter what anybody says, whether it's the government or the mayor, people will decide the law doesn't apply to them. 

'It's being spread anyway through offices and schools so I can't see the restrictions making that much difference.' 

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'I do not accept the statement at all. I do not accept these measures. We need to talk to government, they need to understand our local knowledge, expertise and ability to get things done, and preserve jobs and well-being.

'We are really disappointed. As things stand we defy the Government and we do not accept these measures.

'We need to get Covid under control and we need to work with people to find a way of preserving jobs and mental health.'

As head of the local council Mr Preston has no official powers to over-rule the decision taken by ministers. But he could, in theory, prevent council staff from helping to enforce the pub closures and household meeting ban - though there has been no suggestion yet that he would.

He posted his statement on his Facebook page, with Middlesbrough residents flocking to express their opinion. 

Simon Rylander said: 'Really proud and happy you're standing up for our town and region Andy! What do we do in the meantime though?'

Craig Hatton wrote: 'Well done for speaking your mind! This government hasn't got a grasp on reality.'

Graham Hadfield added: 'I share your frustration Andy but I fear Hancock will simply continue to close his ears to logic. He has been out of his depth since the start and is just getting worse.'

The confirmation comes despite Mr Hancock hailing 'early' indications that the nationwide Rule of Six and 10pm pubs curfew are already bringing cases under control - and downgrading the swingeing measures in place in Bolton.

Meanwhile, there are signs that ministers are scrambling to simplify the rules after even the premier became muddled this week. A 'traffic light' system could be introduced to show what restrictions are in place for different regions, with three tiers of intensity. 

There are hopes could help free up some parts of the South that have dramatically lower rates of infection than the North. 

Results from the largest Covid-19 study in England found the R-rate fell from 1.7 to around 1.1 last month.

But the director of the study, by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, said the interim findings from 80,000 participants 'reinforced the need for protective measures' to help extinguish the virus.

Mr Hancock told the Commons: 'The study published today shows us hope that we can crack this.'

However, he again defied calls for the 10pm curfew on pubs to be lifted amid claims it is doing 'more harm than good'. Mr Hancock's positive message on the findings of the study contrasted sharply with the grim message from Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance at a Downing Street press conference last night. 

The PM and his senior medical and science advisers warned that the outbreak was 'going in the wrong direction' - even though it is understood they were aware of the latest Imperial findings in advance. 

Liverpool had been braced for more measures to curb a recent rise in infections that has left it with the highest rolling seven-day rate of new cases at 258 per 100,000, while nearby Knowsley is second at 262. 

In addition, Luton, Wakefield, Chester, East and West Cheshire, Barrow-in-Furness and Rotherham have been added to the Government's watchlist as 'areas of concern'. 

And Sheffield has been moved up to an area of 'enhanced support', suggesting it could be the next to be placed in lockdown.

Areas of concern are the focus of targeted actions to reduce the prevalence of coronavirus, for example receiving additional testing in care homes and increased community engagement with high-risk groups.

Areas for enhanced support are those at a medium-high risk of intervention where there is a more detailed plan, agreed with the national authorities.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a 'rapid review' of the local lockdown strategy and urged the Government to consider whether the 10pm curfew should remain.    

'We have supported these restrictions, but we have now got - after this morning's announcement - over 50 areas in local restrictions and over the weeks and months only one area has come out of these restrictions,' he said.

'So we need a strategy, a road map, people need to have hope that this is going to work.'

He told reporters at Westminster that the Government needed to 'massively improve' the way it communicated and provide economic support for areas at the same time restrictions were imposed.

'I think we need a rapid review of the local lockdowns because what we are seeing is that in some areas in lockdown the infection rates are going up, not down.

'That's worrying and there needs to be a review into that. In other areas they have been in local lockdown for months and so there needs to be a rapid review - what's working, what isn't working, what does the science tell us about that.'

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hancock was repeatedly challenged over the blanket 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants in England. 

There were complaints that people have been causing issues by piling out of venues and going to the supermarket for more alcohol, or having house parties instead. 

But Mr Hancock said: 'Of course, we keep this under review and of course we're constantly looking at how we can improve these policies, but I think we've got to look at both sides of the evidence to try to get this right.'

He added: 'We know that sustained contact, especially in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces is a driver of infection and pubs and bars an obvious risk.

'So I heard what he said about the 10pm rule, but my concerns relate to everybody leaving the pub at the same time.'

Warrington Borough Council leader Russ Bowden said: 'These restrictions are disappointing for our town but are, again, a necessary response in helping us to drive down the number of case of coronavirus in Warrington.

'Now more than ever, we need to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus.'

He added: 'I'm aware the Government has announced a support package for affected councils as part of the announcement of these new restrictions.

'I await the detail on what this funding could mean but it's clear that, as part of these strict new measures, we need to do all we can to support affected businesses - not least our hospitality industry which will, again, be seriously impacted by these new restrictions.

'We will, therefore, continue to work closely with Government and press them for the support our hospitality sector needs during this increasingly difficult period.'

Earlier, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson called for a two-week 'circuit-breaker' lockdown to restrict the virus from spreading. 

But his colleague, Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham, repeated his opposition to the proposal, which he insisted was never discussed as an option when he spoke to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.  

The elected mayor of Middlesbrough said he was prepared to defy the Government and reject new coronavirus measures imposed on the town in what was thought to be a first for an authority figure.

Independent Andy Preston was furious with the new rules which go further than he and his counterparts in Hartlepool had lobbied for earlier in the week. 

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, had been opposed to extra measures and spoke in the Commons earlier about the need for a clear exit strategy.

In response to the new rules, he said: 'I would like to personally thank Mr Hancock for ensuring that a clear, evidence-led exit strategy has been included in the measures imposed on Middlesbrough.

'I was clear in my opposition to any further local restrictions at this time, especially seen as the latest national restrictions had not had even a week to bed in.

'And while I respectfully disagreed with the decision of Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston to request a local lockdown in Middlesbrough, I am in no doubt that he acted in good faith in making this request of the Government.

'So now we are where we are, our focus must shift to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.'

Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, said the new measures were 'inevitable'.

He said: 'I've said before that no one welcomes further restrictions, but we on Teesside sit next to seven neighbouring North East local authorities where tighter restrictions have been imposed for some time now because of worryingly high rates of Covid-19.

The weekly infection rate in Liverpool now stands at 258.4 per 100,000 people

The weekly infection rate in Liverpool now stands at 258.4 per 100,000 people

 

The north west of England, which has seen areas such as Burnley and Liverpool (pictured today) placed under local restrictions, had the highest levels of infection while the number of infections

The north west of England, which has seen areas such as Burnley and Liverpool (pictured today) placed under local restrictions, had the highest levels of infection while the number of infections

'It's only 13 miles from Middlesbrough to Sedgefield in County Durham and the virus is clearly in circulation right across the North East region at levels that are concerning and the virus pays no heed to the local authority borders between County Durham and the Tees Valley local authority areas.'

Andy Preston, the independent Middlesbrough mayor and philanthropist who clashed with 'Labour snowflakes' over immigration and raised £3 million through his charity foundation

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston has been catapulted into the national coronavirus debate after he launched a stunning revolt against the government's new lockdown rules in the town.

The independent politician launched his astonishing mutiny after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the town, along with Liverpool, Hartlepool and Warrington would face the same curbs as the North East. 

In a video message Mr Preston said they went further than he and other local politicians had lobbied for, and in what is believed to be a first for a local politician, rejected the measures outlined in the Commons.

Mr Preston was elected mayor in 2019, having first stood and narrowly lost in 2015.

The businessman was previously a high-profile philanthropist in Teesside before going into politics.

The first charity he founded, in 2011, was Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation which raises funds for communities in the area.  The Foundation is supported by a number of local businesses including Middlesbrough Football Club.

A few years later, Mr Preston launched a new charity called CEO Sleepout which holds events across the UK to raise funds to combat homelessness and poverty. In December 2016, launched a restaurant, The Fork in the Road, in Middlesbrough in an attempt to provide employment opportunities for former prisoners, recovering addicts and the long term unemployed.

He stepped down from his foundation after being elected, having raised three million during his tenure. 

Mr Preston was previously a staunch Labour member before standing as an independent in 2015. 

He had a run in with the Labour Party in 2019, when he was accused of  'dog whistle racism' after making a post on Facebook titled 'Immigration Can Bring Big Benefits and Big Negatives'.

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, labelled Preston's post 'irresponsible and dangerous'.

However, the mayor was heavily supported by the public and an online poll suggested that 89% of residents agreed with his post. 

In it, he said that he was '100% certain that recent and rapid immigration to some parts of central Middlesbrough is causing new problems and a clash of cultures is developing.' 

Dismissing his critics in the Labour party, Mr Preston later said: 'If professional politicians and some snowflakes aren't happy with me then that's fine. I'll keep sticking up for people - regardless of what abuse politicians and their lackeys send me.'

 

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At the press conference last night, the PM dismissed pressure from many Tories to change strategy and focus on protecting jobs, saying he would not 'throw in the sponge'. 

There has been increasing anxiety - including in Cabinet - about following the ultra-cautious approach from Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick. One senior minister told MailOnline that the government was now 'talking more widely to people with different views'.  

While the rate of infection appears to be falling, the study, commissioned by the Department of Health, found that of the volunteers tested between September 18-26, one in 200 people had coronavirus.

It also revealed the virus to be spreading more among young people, while simultaneously laying bare the North-South divide, pointing to the North West as the epicentre of the UK's outbreak.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said: 'While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date.

'This reinforces the need for protective measures to limit the spread of the disease and the public's adherence to these, which will be vital to minimise further significant illness and loss of life from Covid-19.'  

Asked whether the Prime Minister and his advisers would have seen this study before their downbeat TV briefing yesterday, Professor Elliot said 'yes'.

'We report in weekly to Government and so they are aware of these statistics from our study,' he said this morning. 'Clearly there are a range of stats that are considered by Government and we're just one area.'

But he did not agree that the tone of the briefing should have been more optimistic, and said: 'I thought the messaging was very good yesterday. We've got to really quite high levels of the virus.

'One in 200 people who are walking the streets today, on average, [would] test positive for the virus. It's not dependent on the testing system [and] it's not just symptomatic people.

'I think people have begun to hear the message since the beginning of September. The rate of increase of the virus at the beginning for September was alarming… now we've got to high rates we've really got to do something about it and that was the message yesterday. The rate of rise may have slowed and that's the first step.'

Professor Steven Riley agreed and added: 'This [study] is entirely consistent with the messaging yesterday – 100 per cent consistent with the messaging. All the public health measures that are in place right now are absolutely crucial…

HOW HAS THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK CHANGED?

The REACT study, run by Imperial College London and funded by the Department of Health, has been tracking England's Covid-19 outbreak throughout the summer.

The prevalence of the virus is based on what proportion of people tested have a positive result, and is used to work out what percentage of people in the country currently have the virus. 

This is how the data shows the change in England's outbreak: 

Round three: July 24 - August 11 

Prevalence: 0.04% (one in 2,500) Estimated R rate: 1.3 Tests done: 161,560 Positive results: 54

Round four: August 20 - September 8 

Prevalence: 0.13% (one in 769) Estimated R rate: 1.7 Tests done: 154,325 Positive results: 137

Round five: September 18 - 25 

Prevalence: 0.55% (one in 181) Estimated R rate: 1.06 Tests done: 84,610 (ongoing) Positive results: 363 

The most recent round of results from REACT provides estimates for the prevalence of the virus in different regions across England as follows:

North West: 0.86% (1 in 116 people) North East: 0.78% (1 in 128) Yorkshire & Humber: 0.54% (1 in 185)  London: 0.49% (1 in 204) East Midlands: 0.44% (1 in 227) West Midlands: 0.38% (1 in 263) East of England: 0.31% (1 in 323) South West: 0.25% (1 in 400) South East: 0.24% (1 in 417)

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'If we were reporting it we would very much comment on the prevalence. It [the messaging] has to go negative for us to avoid substantial numbers of hospitalisations and deaths.' 

Politicians in the region met with Mr Hancock last night, with the final decision taken after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning.

Mr Anderson said measures to restrict travel, in place in some areas of Wales, had not been put forward, but he believed the Government was considering measures to ensure restaurants only take bookings.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast: 'I know that there are some discussions, I understand, that are going on about the situation in Liverpool, but no decisions have been taken yet.

'It's not really possible for me to say what they may or may not do since I think there's currently dialogue between health officials and the local council there.'

Halton MP Derek Twigg said he and other local MPs had 'demanded' a meeting with the Health Minister.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Mr Twigg said: 'I raised several concerns and issues and asked for evidence and data on the impact of Covid-19 on our area.

'I was assured that a decision has not yet been taken on the further local restrictions we may face but it is likely to be decided tomorrow.'

Local leaders have called for the Government to provide financial support if it brings in stricter restrictions.

In a joint statement, Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram and the leaders of Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens, Halton and Knowsley authorities have called for the Government to work with them, provide financial support and increase testing capacity.

They said: 'Throughout the pandemic, we have always put the health of our residents first and we will continue to do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep as many people as possible safe.

'However, at the same time, we must be clear that any further restrictions will deal a hammer blow to our economy.'

Four Welsh local authority areas - Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham - will go into lockdown at 6pm tonight, with people banned from meeting anyone outside their household indoors. 

People will also be forbidden to enter or leave the county in which they live without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education. 

In North Wales, the new local lockdown will affect around 504,000 people and will bring the number of people in the country under lockdown to more than 2.3 million.

It means 16 areas of the country will face some form of extra restrictions, with the majority of the other areas under lockdown located in South Wales. 

This morning, Jim Jones of North Wales Tourism said he had seen no evidence that visitors were responsible for the spread and warned the lockdown would devastate local businesses. 

'Business are extremely and understandably frustrated, it's another dark day,' he told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

'They have invested so much time and gone to extraordinary measures to be Covid-compliant and make everybody safe and then all of a sudden they've got to cancel bookings and tell visitors to go home.'    

The North East was made subject to new restrictions yesterday morning, with people banned from meeting anyone inside unless they are part of their Covid bubble. However this stopped short of a full lockdown that would shut pubs and restaurants. 

It comes as Boris Johnson was bolstered by new figures showing the Covid infection rate has started slowing since restrictions were tightened.

The REACT study shows that prevalence of the coronavirus has surged in all regions over the summer, with the North of England worst affected. Pictured: The graphs show different phases of the study, starting with May in the top left and September in the bottom right. Darker colours show higher rates of Covid-19

The REACT study shows that prevalence of the coronavirus has surged in all regions over the summer, with the North of England worst affected. Pictured: The graphs show different phases of the study, starting with May in the top left and September in the bottom right. Darker colours show higher rates of Covid-19

The prevalence of Covid-19 varies widely across different regions of England but is not lower than one case per 400 people in any part of the nation, the researchers said. It is highest in the North West, where almost one in 100 people are carrying the disease

The prevalence of Covid-19 varies widely across different regions of England but is not lower than one case per 400 people in any part of the nation, the researchers said. It is highest in the North West, where almost one in 100 people are carrying the disease

The Imperial College London's predictions of the prevalence of Covid-19 - the percentage of people who have the illness - rose sharply in September (illustrated by the pink lines)

The Imperial College London's predictions of the prevalence of Covid-19 - the percentage of people who have the illness - rose sharply in September (illustrated by the pink lines)

Revellers in Liverpool make their way home earlier this week after partying until the 10pm curfew

Revellers in Liverpool make their way home earlier this week after partying until the 10pm curfew 

In the strongest evidence yet that local lockdowns are working, results from the largest Covid-19 study in England found the R-rate fell from 1.7 to around 1.1 this month.

The director of the study by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori said the interim findings from 80,000 participants 'reinforced the need for protective measures' to help extinguish the virus.

North Wales lockdown: What are the new restrictions from 6pm tonight and how long could they last?

Where are the lockdowns being imposed?

The Welsh Government has announced Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham will be placed under local lockdowns from 6pm on Thursday.

Announcing the new measures, health minister Vaughan Gething said: 'It's always difficult to make the decision to impose restrictions but we hope that these measures will make a positive difference - just as we have seen in Caerphilly and Newport, where local residents have pulled together and followed the rules.'

What are the new restrictions?

Under the new measures, people under lockdown will not be allowed to enter or leave the county in which they live without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education.

People will also only be able to meet people they

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