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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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.