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HEALTH

Covid-19: Italy may reopen ski slopes from February 15th

Italy's ski slopes can reopen this month, but only in 'yellow zone' regions, the government's panel of scientific experts has said.

Covid-19: Italy may reopen ski slopes from February 15th
Photo: AFP

Ski slopes across the country have been closed since November under strict measures intended to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

From February 15th, they can reopen in regions designated 'yellow zones' under the nation's tiered system of coronavirus restrictions according to the government's Technical Scientific Committee (CTS).

The rule change has not yet been officially announced by the government, but looks likely to go ahead according to Italian media reports.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy's tier system?

At the moment 15 of Italy's 20 regions are designated yellow zones.

Ski slopes are expected to remain closed in orange and red regions.

Some regional authorities are pushing for orange zones to also be allowed to reopen with precautionary measures in place, such as the mandatory use of FFP2 masks, but their proposals were rejected by the CTS on Thursday.

The decision to allow reopenings was praised by governors of northern Italian regions hard hit by the ban on ski tourism.

“The CTS has given a good signal which … allows the revival of the mountains in time for the ski world championships on Sunday, February 7th, in Cortina,” said Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region.

“But the virus is still circulating and should not be underestimated,” he added.

However, it's not yet known whether it will be possible for people to travel out of their region to visit ski resorts.

Italy is also due to review its ban on non-essential travel between regions, which stays in place until at least February 15th. 

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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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