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COVID-19 RULES

Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Face masks will remain obligatory on Italian public transport - but not on flights - until the end of September following a recent rise in the contagion rate, the health ministry has confirmed.

The use of high-grade Ffp2 masks will remain mandatory on public transport in Italy until June 15th.
The use of high-grade Ffp2 masks will remain mandatory on public transport in Italy until September 30th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

As expected, Italy’s remaining rules on wearing masks in certain public places will end from Thursday, except for on most forms of public transport, in healthcare settings, and in care homes.

The change was confirmed in an ordinance signed by the health minister, Roberto Speranza, late on Wednesday following a cabinet meeting.

The mask mandate will continue to apply to all forms of local and long-distance public transport within the country until at least September 30th, including on buses, trains, trams, and ferries, the ordinance states.

However flights are not mentioned in the new ordinance, as ministers have reportedly chosen to lift the rules for air passengers entirely.

The mask-wearing requirement in cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and at indoor sporting events has also been dropped.

Schools will not require pupils to wear a mask when sitting final exams, though masks continue to be recommended during exams and on school premises.

As existing rules expired on Wednesday, June 15th, the changes come in almost immediately from Thursday, June 16th.

No further details of the rule changes were immediately confirmed.

The government is expected to publish a decree in the coming days containing full details of the updated regulations.

There has been no indication yet as to whether the government also plans to relax the rules on quarantine and isolation for those who test positive for Covid-19.

From Thursday the Covid vaccination obligation also comes to an end for over-50s in Italy, but remains in place for healthcare and care home staff until at least the end of the year.

Local authorities and individual businesses in Italy can still set different rules than those at the national level, meaning certain rules may continue to vary from one place to another.

The government had initially planned to scrap rules on wearing masks everywhere other than in healthcare settings under its ‘roadmap’ first set out in March, but the health minister has reportedly taken a more cautious line amid rising infection rates.

After weeks of steadily falling infection rates overall in Italy, the contagion curve has now risen again, from a seven-day average of 15,000 last week to 21,000 this week.

An uptick in new infections has now been reported in 14 of Italy’s 21 regions and autonomous provinces.

There is particular concern about local spikes in cities, such as Milan, where the daily number of new confirmed cases shot up from 261 to 1,095 within the space of a week.

The recent increase in Italy, as in other countries including Portugal and Germany, is thought to be due to the spread of the coronavirus sub-variant BA.5, which the Italian Higher Health Institute (ISS) says is more contagious and has a greater ability to circumvent immunity given by vaccines.

Current estimates of the number of cases in Italy caused by BA.5 range from 1.4 percent to 13 percent of new infections.

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

Member comments

  1. What a ridiculous backward decision, Italy forever living in the past. The country has lost its flair over the last two years and this is just another sorry milestone of its descent into insignificance as the clowns in Brussels increasingly rule the roost. It’s reputation for social disobedience has morphed into a country of cucciolini. Che delusione!

  2. So does it mean the school year 2022/2023 in Italy will have mandatory mask use again for the year?

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COVID-19 RULES

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italian heathcare staff suspended over their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 can now return to work, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed on Monday.

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italy become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

That obligation had been set to expire in December, but was brought forward to Tuesday due to “a shortage of medical and health personnel”, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has since registered nearly 180,000 deaths.

Schillaci first announced the plan to scrap the rule on Friday in a statement saying data showed the virus’ impact on hospitals  “is now limited”.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

Meloni said the move, which has been criticised by the centre-left as a win for anti-vax campaigners, would mean some 4,000 healthcare workers can return to work.

This includes some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination, according to records at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic, when it was the main opposition party, and she promised to use her first cabinet meetings to mark a clear break in policies with her predecessor.

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