SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Covid-19: When do you still need to wear a mask in Italy?

From Monday June 28th, wearing face masks outdoors will no longer be compulsory in Italy. But that doesn't mean the end of masks altogether. Here's where you still need to wear them, even when you are outside.

Covid-19: When do you still need to wear a mask in Italy?
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In October last year, face masks were made a requirement in all public places – indoors and outdoors – across Italy in response to rising coronavirus infection rates.

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.”

But on Monday the Italian health minister announced that mask-wearing will no longer be compulsory outdoors from next week, based on new advice from the government’s scientific advisory panel (CTS).

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

This still doesn’t mean you can just leave your mask at home, however.

Here’s a look at why you’ll still need to make sure you have a mask with you at all times in Italy.

Indoor spaces

Wearing masks in public indoor spaces, including shops, cinemas, theatres, cultural sites such as museums and galleries and offices remains compulsory for the moment – these rules remain unchanged under the new ordinance signed by the Italian health minister on Wednesday.

Busy outdoor spaces

Face masks will also remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, markets, and other busy outdoor places.

This also includes areas outside public buildings such as schools and churches during busy hours.

Social distancing rules also remain in place, meaning you’re still supposed to stay at least one metre away from anyone you don’t live with.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told reporters on Wednesday morning that, under the new ordinance. “masks must be worn [outdoors] only when distance cannot be maintained.”

After reviewing the rules on Monday, the CTS stated that there were various situations where you would still have to wear a mask outdoors, saying “people should always carry a mask with them so that they can wear it whenever such conditions arise”.

The rules on wearing masks at bars and restaurants remain the same, even outdoors. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

At work

The CTS confirmed that all other existing rules on wearing masks would remain in place, stating: “the established protocols for the safe operation of economic and recreational activities must be respected”.

This means that staff working in public-facing roles, and anyone working with people who they do not live with, will need to continue wearing a mask at work.

Schools

The current rules on wearing masks at school will stay the same, meaning pupils from primary age upwards will still need a mask in class.

Bars and restaurants

As before, all customers at restaurants, cafés and bars must wear a mask at all times when moving around (such as when paying the bill or going to the toilet), both inside and in outdoor seating areas.

Masks can be taken off once you’re sitting at a table, but should be kept on when ordering and paying.

Public transport

Face masks were made compulsory on public transport early in the pandemic in spring 2020 and the CTS confirmed that this rule is set to stay in place for the foreseeable future.

Police may still ask people to wear masks in crowded outdoor areas, including at popular tourist sites. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Yellow zones

The CTS said it considered it safe to remove the mask-wearing requirement outdoors in areas classed as low-risk ‘white’ zones only

All of Italy is expected to be ‘white’ by the time the rule change comes in on Monday June 28th, but if the risk classification later changes and any part of the country is put back into the yellow, orange or red zone, the outdoor mask-wearing rules will apply once more.

For ill or at-risk people

The CTS said anyone who has symptoms or suspects they may have Covid-19 should wear a mask in public, while it is “strongly recommended” for vulnerable people, such as those who are immunosuppressed, to continue wearing masks in public.

Are there any exemptions if you’re fully vaccinated?

At the moment, there are no exceptions to Italy’s health measures for those who have been vaccinated, and this includes when it comes to masks.

Italian media reports that the CTS is looking at possible rule changes including allowing people to remove their masks indoors if everyone present is vaccinated, but no such changes have yet been confirmed by the government.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

MONKEYPOX

Semen ‘a vehicle’ for monkeypox infection, say Italian health experts

Researchers in Italy who were first to identify the presence of monkeypox in semen are broadening their testing, saying early results suggest sperm can transmit infection.

Semen 'a vehicle' for monkeypox infection, say Italian health experts

A team at Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital, which specialises in infectious diseases, revealed in a study published on June 2nd that the virus DNA was detected in semen of three out of four men diagnosed with monkeypox.

They have since expanded their work, according to director Francesco Vaia, who said researchers have found the presence of monkeypox in the sperm of 14 infected men out of 16 studied.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How is Italy dealing with rising monkeypox cases?

“This finding tells us that the presence of the virus in sperm is not a rare or random occurrence,” Vaia told AFP in an interview.

He added: “The infection can be transmitted during sexual intercourse by direct contact with skin lesions, but our study shows that semen can also be a vehicle for infection.”

Researchers at Spallanzani identified Italy’s first cases of monkeypox, found in two men who had recently returned from the Canary Islands.

The latest results reported by Vaia have not yet been published or subject to peer review.

Since early May, a surge of monkeypox cases has been detected outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic. Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,400 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the World Health Organisation from more than 50 countries this year.

The vast majority of cases so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age, chiefly in urban areas, in “clustered social and sexual networks”, according to the WHO.

It is investigating cases of semen testing positive for monkeypox, but has maintained the virus is primarily spread through close contact.

Meg Doherty, director of the WHO’s global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes, said last week: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.”

Could antivirals curb the spread of monkeypox?

Spallanzani researchers are now trying to ascertain how long the virus is present in sperm after the onset of symptoms.

In one patient, virus DNA was detected three weeks after symptoms first appeared, even after lesions had disappeared – a phenomenon Vaia said had been seen in the past in viral infections such as Zika.

That could indicate that the risk of transmission of monkeypox could be lowered by the use of condoms in the weeks after recovery, he said.

The Spallanzani team is also looking at vaginal secretions to study the presence of the virus.

A significant finding from the first study was that when the virus was cultured in the lab, it was “present in semen as a live, infectious virus efficient in reproducing itself”, Vaia told AFP.

Vaia cautioned that there remained many unanswered questions on monkeypox, including whether antiviral therapies could shorten the time in which people with the virus could infect others.

Another is whether the smallpox vaccine could protect people from the monkeypox virus.

“To study this we will analyse people who were vaccinated 40 years ago before human smallpox was declared to have disappeared,” Vaia said.

SHOW COMMENTS