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Coronavirus: Italy closes all sports events to fans until April

Here are some of the major upcoming sporting events affected by the government ban.

Coronavirus: Italy closes all sports events to fans until April
Mialn's San Siro stadium is currently closed to fans. Photo: AFP

Italy ordered on Wednesday that all major sporting events be held behind closed doors until April 3 as the country grapples with the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The measure was announced as the Italian government stepped up its response to an epidemic that has killed 107 people and infected more than 3,000 others in Italy in the past two weeks.

(These numbers are changing constantly: view the latest figures here.)

In a decree released on Wednesday, the government states that “all sporting events and competitions of all types, whether private or public” can be held “in sports facilities behind closed doors – namely in the open air but without the presence of the public”.

This week's Italian Cup semi-finals – Juventus against AC Milan in Turin and Napoli's clash with Inter Milan at the Stadio San Paolo – have been postponed because of the outbreak.

No new dates for the matches have been announced and the May 13 final is now likely to be postponed for at least a week.

The spread of the virus has played havoc with Serie A, with 10 matches postponed over the last fortnight and a huge row brewing between clubs and the country's top football league over the scheduling of fixtures.

The six games shelved from the round – including the title clash between Juve and Inter – are expected to be moved to the coming weekend, with every other matchday pushed back a week.

Italy's Six Nations rugby union match against Ireland in Dublin, scheduled for Saturday, has already been postponed, and there are now serious doubts about the visit to Rome of England the following weekend.

The Davis Cup tennis qualifier between Italy and South Korea in Cagliari on Friday and Saturday will also have to be held without fans.

Find all The Local's coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy here

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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