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.
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.