Will Italy end its Covid mask mandate on May 1st?

Italy is set to end the mask requirement for indoor public places by May 1st, but health ministry sources now say the rule could remain for “some places such as on public transport” beyond that date.

Will Italy end its Covid mask mandate on May 1st?
A passenger wears a face mask on a public bus in Rome. Italy’s government is set to decide by the end of April on whether masks will remain mandatory on public transport. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Italy has eased many of its pandemic-related measures in recent weeks, and masks are no longer a requirement in most outdoor public areas.

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

The government is now expected to lift almost all remaining rules by mid-June, with a decree issued in March stating that the current mask mandate for indoor public areas is set to end on April 30th.

But Health Minister Roberto Speranza said last week that the decision was not final, and that the changes would be confirmed “in the last ten days of April”, based on the current health situation in the country.

With the government now considering whether to drop the mask mandate, a junior minister suggested on Wednesday that the rules may stay in place longer than expected – at least in some situations.

“I’m convinced that it would be right to go from an obligation to wear masks in enclosed spaces to a recommendation, keeping them in some places such as on public transport,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in an interview with Rai News 24.

“The decree in force at the moment removes the obligation to wear masks for everyone [from May 1st],” he said.

“Now it’s a question of evaluating whether to keep them in some special situations, where there is a higher concentration of people.”

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.

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

Speranza last week stressed however that masks are still “essential” and a “fundamental safeguard” against the spread of the virus.

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

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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.