LATEST: Italy extends Covid indoor mask mandate for some venues

Italy has extended its mask-wearing requirement for certain indoor venues by an additional six weeks following an ordinance signed by Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Thursday evening.

The requirement to wear a face mask on public transport in Italy has been extended until June 15th.
The requirement to wear a face mask on public transport in Italy has been extended until June 15th. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Despite initial plans to end the mask mandate on May 1st, the ordinance states that Italy’s current rules will remain in place until June 15th for indoor entertainment venues, healthcare settings and public transport.

“As of March 31st we have finished the state of emergency, but we are not out of the pandemic and we still need to act with caution,” Speranza reportedly said when announcing the changes during a speech at the Anaao Giovani conference in Rome on Thursday afternoon.

READ ALSO: Italian health experts warn against ‘reckless’ end to Covid mask rule in May

Prime Minister Mario Draghi had previously said the country’s indoor mask mandate would be dropped in most situations from May 1st, but had reserved the right to change course if deemed necessary.

The extended rules mean cinemas, theatres, concert halls, live music venues and indoor sports arenas will all continue to require visitors to wear high-grade Ffp2 masks.

All forms of local and long-distance public transport, including buses, subways and trams, as well as planes, trains and ships, will also retain the Ffp2 mask requirement.

Health and social care settings such as hospitals and residential homes will also continue to require masks, though the ordinance does not specify that Ffp2 masks are needed in this case.

Workplaces are not referenced in the ordinance, indicating that the requirement to wear a mask will be dropped, as planned, from May 1st for all employees other than those working in public transport, schools, and health or social care settings.

Masks will continue to be required in schools until the end of the school year, as had always been the case, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

Italy will continue to require masks in classrooms until the end of the school year.

Italy will continue to require masks in classrooms until the end of the school year. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP.

Though Speranza had reportedly said in his speech that studi professionali – ‘professional offices’ – would be included in the list of environments that would continue to require a mask from May 1st (without specifying exactly which venues would fall under this category), no such provision appears in the ordinance.

No other venues are named in the ordinance as requiring a face mask from May 1st, though the text “recommends” that masks continue to be worn in all indoor public spaces.

This tallies with previous statements from Andrea Costa, Italy’s deputy health minister, that masks would be ‘strongly recommended’, but not required by law, in most public and private workplaces.

Shops, bars and restaurants do not appear anywhere in the ordinance, indicating that mask mandates for these spaces will be dropped as planned from May 1st.

Speranza had said the ordinance will remain in place as a “bridging measure” until the government can include the extension in an upcoming decree.

Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 health restrictions on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

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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.