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Make face masks compulsory in UK capital, says London mayor

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A patient is pushed on a trolley outside the Royal London Hospital in east London, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.
A patient is pushed on a trolley outside the Royal London Hospital in east London, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.   -   Copyright  Matt Dunham/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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London should make face masks compulsory and close all places of worship in order to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, says the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Khan said that the measures should be accompanied by bigger financial bailouts for Londoners experiencing economic hardship and an acceleration of the vaccination programme in the UK capital.

London is already under some of the UK’s tightest COVID-19 restrictions, which forbid all but essential travel and have seen bars, restaurants, and all non-essential shops close.

"London's cases are worse than in March, yet our restrictions are looser. We're also dealing with a more transmissible strain of the virus," Khan said.

"This cannot continue. London leaders and I are left with little choice but to ask the Govt to tighten measures."

But the UK has so far resisted measures imposed in other European states of making the wearing of face masks compulsory and imposing harsh penalties for breaking the rules, including hundreds of euro fines in France, wear face-coverings have been required for months.

“I know how tough further restrictions are for Londoners, and trust me — we wouldn’t be making this request if this situation wasn’t extremely serious. We need to do whatever it takes to save lives and protect our NHS from being overwhelmed,” Khan wrote on Twitter.

His comments come a week after he said that COVID-19 was “out of control” in London and warned that hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed.

Declaring a major incident in the UK capital, Khan called for government support because the threat of the virus had reached “crisis point”.

Also on Wednesday, it was announced that 8,559 people had tested positive for COVID-19 while the latest reported number of patients in London hospitals was 7,606.