Italy to drop outdoor mask-wearing rule from June 28th

As coronavirus infection rates continue to fall in Italy, health authorities said they will relax the current requirement to wear masks at all times outside from June 28th.

Italy to drop outdoor mask-wearing rule from June 28th
Photo: Marco Bertorello/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 are about to be relaxed.

Masks will no longer be compulsory at all times outdoors in Italy from Monday June 28th, the health minister said on Monday.

READ ALSO: When do you still need to wear a mask in Italy?

The lifting of the mask requirement will come into effect in regions labelled “white” under Italy’s classification system, Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote on social media.

This classification already covers all Italian regions except the Aosta Valley in the northwest, and is expected to apply to the whole country from the 28th.

Speranza’s announcement came on advice from Italy’s Comitato Tecnico Scientifico (CTS) scientific advisory panel, which said people should still have masks at hand for events with higher risk of spreading the virus like large gatherings.

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

The Italian rules currently 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.”

Social distancing is expected to remain in place and people will still be required to carry masks with them, 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 30 percent of the population over 12 years old as of Tuesday, 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.

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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.”