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SUMMER

Covid-19: Italy to set date for dropping outdoor mask-wearing rule

As coronavirus infection rates continue to fall, Italian health authorities are on Monday reviewing the current requirement to wear masks at all times when outdoors in public.

Covid-19: Italy to set date for dropping outdoor mask-wearing rule
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Italy has required face masks to be worn outdoors as well as indoors since October 2020, and as temperatures soar across the country many people will be relieved to hear that these rules may soon be relaxed – at least somewhat.

On Monday afternoon the Italian government’s panel of scientific experts, the Scientific Technical Committee (CTS), is holding a meeting to discuss potential changes to the mask-wearing rules, the health ministry said.

The review comes as Italy allowed more regions to drop most coronavirus restrictions on Monday, after health data showed the infection rate was still falling nationwide.

READ ALSO: What you need to know if you’re travelling to Italy in summer 2021

At the moment, the Italian rules state that masks must be worn at all times when out of the house, indoors and outdoors, “except in cases where, due to the characteristics of the place or the circumstances, isolation is continuously guaranteed.”

Italian media reports on Monday suggest that July 5th is being considered as a possible date for dropping the requirement for masks to be worn in outdoor public places.

The expert panel may also be considering removing the rule a week earlier, on Monday June 28th, the first day on which the whole of Italy will be under ‘white zone’ rules – which mean most health measures can be lifted.

Though all regions except one are already in the low-risk ‘white zone’, the mask-wearing rule is among the few restrictions which remain in place under this tier.

If these rules are eased, social distancing is expected to remain in place and masks will still be required when in crowded outdoor areas, such as markets, according to media reports, as concerns remain high in Italy about a potential rise in new coronavirus cases fuelled by the Delta variant.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy: What’s the risk of another Covid-19 surge?

While few cases caused by the new variant have been confirmed in Italy so far, the country analyses a relatively small number of tests to identify the virus strain behind infections.

Italy’s health authorities will increase the number of tests being sequenced from this week in order to help identify potential outbreaks, news agency Ansa reports.

Amid concern about new variants, Italy has from Monday extended a ban on travel from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and brought in a five-day quarantine requirement for arrivals from the UK.

Italy has been reporting around 2,000 new daily infections on average nationwide since June 7th – the lowest figures seen since September 2020.

Italy has fully vaccinated almost 30 percent of the population over 12 years old as of Monday, official figures show.

In total, more than 46 million vaccine doses have been administered in Italy, though health authorities warn that one dose may not offer sufficient protection from Delta and other variants.

Member comments

  1. I live in a US state in which covid is basically over. Nobody is wearing masks inside or out, in groups or not. Our cases are nearly zero as well as our deaths. There are currently 34 people in hospital out of a population of 2 million. I’m vaccinated and am wondering why I’m so dangerous to visit Italy without quarantining or changing my October flight to a “covid free flight,” which i’m sure will be more expensive, hard to find and frankly a completely unnecessary hassle. Maybe someone can tell me why this is the case.

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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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