Nurseries could close and face masks be made compulsory in tougher new UK coronavirus lockdown

NURSERIES could close and face masks made compulsory under tougher lockdown rules.

Health experts are calling for the drastic new rules to stop the spread of Covid with more than 80,000 deaths recorded and more than 3million cases.

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Currently, Brits have been told to stay home with non-essential shops closed and families banned from seeing each other.

Schools are also closed until the end of February for the majority of students but nurseries are allowed to remain open.

But scientists believe the measures do not go far enough to stop cases exploding and are instead calling for a "total clampdown".

They believe nurseries should be closed as well as places of worship with it made compulsory to wear face masks in public.

Independent Sage member Anthony Costello, a professor of global health at UCL and a former WHO director, told The Mirror: "We are in a national crisis with a pandemic out of control.

"We should have no nurseries open, no synagogues, no churches, no mosques. We should have compulsory masks, two-metre distancing.

"We have to take this really seriously – that's what Asian states did.

"The longer we allow it to go on transmitting, the quicker we are going to get a resistant virus to a vaccine, then we are in real doo-doo."

While Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London, believes empty hotels should be used for mandatory isolation.

She told the newspaper: "Schools are 50 per cent full, nurseries are open, places of worship? You have support bubbles, so there is a lot more mixing than in March.

"We have to start thinking about mandatory isolation, like in China and Vietnam. We have lots of empty hotels. We could use that space."

Their calls echo those made by government advisers yesterday who believe the current rules are "too lax".

And some have even described the new Covid strain – which is more than 50 per cent more infectious – as a "pandemic within a pandemic".

London mayor Sadiq Khan has also led calls for face coverings to be worn outside the home as he declared a major incident in the capital.

But a senior Government source told The Telegraph No10 is hoping tougher enforcement of the rules would avoid the need to bring in more draconian measures.

The insider says the government would “strongly guide away from any changes” as they were “pretty set”.

Cops have promised to take a tougher approach to those flouting restrictions amid reports that officers will fine Brits the first time they are caught without a face mask or leave home without a reasonable excuse.

Under the measures, rule breakers will be hit with a £200 fine for a first offence which will then double to £400 for a second.

The penalties could continue to double to as much as £6,400 if Brits continue to ignore life-saving restrictions.

Those holding, or involved in holding, an illegal gathering of more than 30 people risk a police-issued fine of £10,000.

Brits must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces such as shops and supermarkets or face a £200 fine – though exemptions apply to children under 11 and those with certain medical conditions.

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