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HEALTH

Italy confirms all regions will be in the low-restriction ‘white zone’ from Monday

Italian health minister Roberto Speranza on Friday confirmed that all regions of Italy would be allowed to ease the health measures further from Monday, June 28th, as the number of infections recorded remained low this week.

Italy confirms all regions will be in the low-restriction 'white zone' from Monday
Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

The last region still classed as a ‘yellow’ zone, Valle d’Aosta, will join the rest of the country in the low-risk ‘white’ tier, meaning most rules can be relaxed.

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

The main difference will be that the end to the limit on the number of guests you can have at home (which is currently four in yellow zones, not including children).

Outdoor mask-wearing rules can also be eased in ‘white’ zones from Monday – though not removed completely – as the government announced earlier this week.

Most other measures have already been relaxed, including the midnight-5am curfew, which was scrapped nationwide on Monday June 21st.

Social distancing rules remain in place in ‘white’ zones, as does a ban on parties and large gatherings at home.

“With the decree I just signed, all of Italy will be ‘white’ starting from Monday. It is an encouraging result, but we still need caution and prudence,” Speranza wrote in a Facebook post.

Referring to the spread of more transmissible variants of the coronavirus, the minister added: “the battle has not yet been won.”

READ ALSO: Italian health experts warn about Delta variant as vaccine progress slows

The Higher Health Institute (ISS) said in a report on Friday the Delta variant now accounted for more than 16% of new cases in Italy, and warned that this variant was more contagious and had the potential to partially elude vaccines.

The ISS report, along with others from Italian health experts and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) this week, called for more sequencing and renewed efforts to increase vaccination coverage in order to prevent the country’s health situation from worsening.

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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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