Italy extends Covid outdoor mask rules and nightclub closures for ten days

Italy's government has extended several Covid restrictions that were due to expire on Monday, according to Italian media reports.

Italy's outdoor mask mandate has been extended.
Italy's outdoor mask mandate has been extended. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Following an agreement reached by ministers on Monday afternoon, the country’s outdoor mask mandate will now be extended until at least February 10th, according to a report in the Il Messaggero newspaper citing unnamed government sources.

Nightclubs and dance bars, which had been due to reopen from the start of February, will remain closed until the same date, reports news agency Ansa.

The decision was reportedly approved at a cabinet meeting held on Monday afternoon with the intention of reviewing the expiring rules.

These included the requirement to wear masks outdoors in Italy’s lowest-risk ‘white’ zones, as well as a ban on outdoor parties, nightclubs and dance venues that was introduced shortly before Christmas in an effort to battle the country’s soaring infection rates.

Italian news outlets had widely predicted that the rules would be extended for at least another two weeks. 

As of Monday evening, there were no reported changes to incoming rules scheduled to enter into force from February 1st, some of which had also been up for review at the same cabinet meeting.

READ ALSO: Italian government to decide changes to Covid restrictions on Monday

These include a reduction in the validity of Italy’s ‘super green pass’ Covid health certificate, which is now required to access most services and venues in the country, from nine to six months.

Those who had their booster early could see their pass expire in the coming days or weeks – an issue which primarily affects healthcare workers, who were among the first to be vaccinated with a third dose from September.

The apparent absence of any such extension also raises questions about how the new rules will affect foreign tourists from countries which began administering booster shots earlier than Italy, such as the US.

With no fourth dose available, the Italian government is reportedly reconsidering the cut to validity..

It looks likely that ministers will decide to either keep the validity period at nine months, or even to extend it indefinitely for those who have had a booster, according to reports in Italian media on Monday.

The ‘super green pass’, or its equivalent in the form of a foreign-issued vaccination certificate, is currently required to use public transport, enter hotels and restaurants, access tourist and cultural sites, or to go to the cinema, sports stadiums, or concerts.

Other items still up for review include long-discussed changes to the country’s four-tiered system of coronavirus risk ‘zones’, which was not updated this week and looks increasingly likely to be scrapped; and steps to simplify the “cacophony” of rules on managing the health situation in schools in Italy, which Ansa says “is creating difficulties not only for the school system but also for millions of families”.

The government is expected to hold discussions throughout this week before publishing a new decree containing further changes on Thursday.

For more information about Covid-19 restrictions in Italy please see the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).


Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.