EXPLAINED: When do you still have to wear a mask outdoors in Italy?

From Friday, February 11th, it’s no longer compulsory to wear a face mask in all outdoor public spaces in Italy. But there are some situations where mask-wearing in outdoor settings is still required. 

Whether you're going for a jog or just a leisurely walk in Italy, neither situation will require the use of a face mask outdoors anymore. But there are some exceptions to the rule.
Whether you're going for a jog or just a leisurely walk in Italy, neither situation will require the use of a face mask outdoors anymore. But there are some exceptions to the rule. Photo: Laurent EMMANUEL / AFP

Italy lifted its blanket outdoor mask requirement on Friday, ten days after the mandate received a last-minute extension from health authorities.

The requirement had been due to expire on January 31st, but Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an ordinance that same day extending the mandate for an additional ten days.

READ ALSO: Italy reopens nightclubs and eases Covid outdoor mask rule from Friday

Masks were first made compulsory outdoors in Italy in October 2020. The rule was then scrapped for six months from late June to December 2021 as Covid infections dropped, but with the spike in Omicron cases this winter the government chose to reintroduce the outdoor mask requirement last Christmas Eve. 

A new ordinance signed by Speranza on February 8th confirmed that the outdoor mask restriction would be lifted on Friday, February 11th.

It was initially thought that the easing would apply only to Italy’s least-restricted ‘white’ zones, under the country’s four-tiered system of Covid restrictions; however within a few hours of issuing the ordinance deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa confirmed it would apply throughout the country.

Despite the easing of the restriction, there are still situations in outdoor public settings where everyone over the age of six has to wear a face mask. 

When you still have to wear a mask outdoors in Italy:

  • In busy outdoor areas, such as stadiums, queues, and markets, and areas outside public buildings such as schools and churches during busy hours. That means people in Italy are still required to carry a mask with them at all times in preparation for finding themselves in a crowded area.
  • In regions where rules differ from those set at the national level. As local authorities can and often do put additional restrictions in place, it is advisable to check whether the rules on wearing masks differ in your area via your regional government’s website. Campania’s president Vincenzo De Luca, for example, has announced that the requirement will remain in place throughout the region until at least February 28th.

Meanwhile, Italy still requires the wearing of masks in all indoor public spaces.

This rule applies to everyone in the country except for those categories of people listed as exempt in the January 8th ordinance.

Who is exempt from having to wear a mask indoors and outdoors:

  • Children under the age of six.
  • People with breathing difficulties or respiratory problems whose condition could worsen as a result of wearing a face mask. 
  • People whose need to communicate with a disabled person would be made unfeasible by the wearing of a mask.
  • People carrying out “sports activities” (these are not defined by the ordinance).

Rules on indoor mask-wearing in Italy remain unchanged, which means that masks are required in all public indoor spaces.

Since December 24th, 2021, high grade FFP2 masks have been required on all public transport in Italy, as well as in cinemas, theatres, live music or entertainment venues, stadiums and sports halls.

Member comments

  1. Outdoor mask wearing of any kind, except for in the most crowded situations, is the most pointless mandate during this pandemic. People have forgotten why the rules were made and just cling to a security blanket like a young child. Compare the case data, transmissibility and hospitalizations of Italy, where outdoor masks have been drilled into the population, versus other countries who have never worn masks outside. Many countries don’t really enforce indoor masks – yet Italians cling to their masks like religious fanatics. If you feel safer with a mask on – good for you, I wouldn’t want to stop you, but this understanding should also be applied to those who are grown up enough to assess their own personal risk and make their minds up. The nanny state rules supreme here.

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Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italian heathcare staff suspended over their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 can now return to work, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed on Monday.

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italy become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

That obligation had been set to expire in December, but was brought forward to Tuesday due to “a shortage of medical and health personnel”, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has since registered nearly 180,000 deaths.

Schillaci first announced the plan to scrap the rule on Friday in a statement saying data showed the virus’ impact on hospitals  “is now limited”.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

Meloni said the move, which has been criticised by the centre-left as a win for anti-vax campaigners, would mean some 4,000 healthcare workers can return to work.

This includes some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination, according to records at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic, when it was the main opposition party, and she promised to use her first cabinet meetings to mark a clear break in policies with her predecessor.