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COVID-19 RULES

Italy to decide on lifting Covid mask mandate after Easter

Italy's government is expected to end the requirement to wear masks in public places at the end of April, but a final decision is yet to come.

Italy to decide on lifting Covid mask mandate after Easter
As Italy gears up for the return of tourism this spring, many Covid rules have been eased but masks remain a requirement in many settings. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday that the government would wait until after Easter to decide whether to end the nationwide mask mandate from May 1st.

“I think at this time masks are still essential,” Speranza said at an event organised by the RCS Academy business school and newspaper Corriere della Sera.

READ ALSO: Italy’s state of emergency is over ‘but the pandemic isn’t’, says health minister

“After Easter, in the last ten days of April, we will conduct a further evaluation with our scientific experts and decide,” he said.

“But at this moment my very strong recommendation is to use a mask on all occasions when there are risks, because viral circulation is very high.”

On Wednesday, Italy’s health ministry recorded 62,037 new coronavirus infections and 155 Covid-linked deaths in the previous 24 hours.

At the moment, Italy still requires masks to be worn in all indoor public places – including in shops and on public transport – and in crowded outdoor areas.

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

The obligation to wear a mask in all outdoor public places ended on February 11th.

But Speranza stressed that masks are still a “fundamental safeguard” against the spread of the virus.

Masks must still be worn in all indoor public places in Italy. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

“We strongly recommend them on all occasions, even outdoors, where there is the possibility of gatherings,” he said.

He reiterated: “the state of emergency is over but the pandemic is not.”

Speranza said 90 percent of the Italian population aged over 12 have now had at least the first two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 39 million – more than half of the entire population – have had a booster.

Italy this week began offering a fourth dose of an anti-Covid 19 vaccine to those deemed at highest risk from the disease, including over-80s and care home residents.

Speranza said the government would also make a decision by autumn on when and how to offer further vaccine doses to the general population.

“In autumn we await new vaccines adapted to the variants,” Speranza said

“There are no risks in taking more dose, but these are complex decisions and we do not yet know how long the vaccine protection lasts or whether it will be necessary to revaccinate even the youngest,” he said.

Italy’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign has so far prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country’s death toll by almost half, the national health institute (ISS) said in a report published on Wednesday.

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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.

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