Will Italy relax the Covid mask-wearing rules this summer?

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Will Italy relax the Covid mask-wearing rules this summer?
Mask rules have been eased in Italy except for on public transport - though they remain recommended in crowded places. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

As Italy moves toward the next phase of reopening and relaxing its coronavirus rules, the government is looking at whether face masks should remain mandatory in outdoor public places.


Italy has been one of the most pro-mask countries in Europe since the start of the pandemic, but the Italian government and its panel of scientific experts are now weighing up when to drop, or at least relax, the current requirements.

If you live in Italy, grabbing your mascherina before heading out is probably second nature by now. 

Wearing a face mask in busy public areas has been mandatory since May 2020, and the rules were tightened up again in October 2020 to require mask-wearing at all times in public, indoors or outdoors. The rules are backed up with steep fines for non-compliance.

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP


There has been little resistance to, or pressure to remove, the mask-wearing rules in Italy, where in the early days of the pandemic many people wore face masks in the street voluntarily months before requirements were brought in.

Though after months of sweaty mouths and steamed-up glasses, some people are now wondering when Italy’s vaccination campaign will progress to the point where masks are no longer deemed necessary.

Not least international tourists, for whom the prospect of having to wear a mask in the summer heat while strolling along the lungomare is probably not an enticing one.

READ MORE: What will Italy’s coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?

So far, the Italian government has stressed that safety precautions must stay in place this summer, as it doesn’t expect to have the majority of the population fully vaccinated until autumn.

But as the government puts the final touches to its latest round of rule changes, set to come into force as soon as next week, there are suggestions that it could be time to soften the requirement to wear masks outdoors at all times.

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Health Undersecretary Pierpaolo Sileri said on Monday that people should no longer have to wear masks outside once 30 million people, approximately half of the Italian population, have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

"I agree with the hypothesis (of relaxing the rule on wearing facemasks outdoors) when 30 million people are vaccinated with at least one dose of a vaccine," Sileri said in an interview with Radio 24.

Italy will reach that threshold in mid-June, he estimated this week.

"I think it is sensible to put the mask in your pocket outdoors where there are no crowds, and to put it back on your face when there are gatherings and a risk (of contagion)". 

The Italian health ministry however has not made any official statement on when or if the rule may be changed.

One thing looks certain however: masks are set to remain mandatory at least in indoor public places in Italy for a while longer yet.


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edwardpentin 2021/05/17 11:28
The transmission rate outdoors is 0.1%, far less than the chance of being killed in the car accident in the US (1%) which makes wearing masks outside totally absurd. It's astounding so many people follow this rule, especially as the authorities have mostly giving up fining those who don't wear them.
  • buxena 2021/05/17 11:43
    I agree with you 100%!
arneis 2021/05/12 18:54
The CDC has admitted it "miscalculated" the transmission rate of the virus outdoors. Only a slight "miscalculation"'s actually less than 1% and they claimed 10% based on faulty data. And what about the Stanford peer-reviewed paper that cites the physical and psychological dangers of prolonged mask wearing?
  • buxena 2021/05/17 11:44

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