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Italian region makes face masks compulsory in public at all times

The southern Italian region of Campania has ordered people to wear face masks anytime they're in public, even outdoors, after a rise in new cases of coronavirus.

Italian region makes face masks compulsory in public at all times
Campania is the latest part of Italy to make face masks compulsory in public, even outside. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Under a new ordinance on Thursday, masks are now compulsory 24 hours a day throughout the region, which includes Italy's third biggest city of Naples. 

The new rule, which will remain in place until at least October 4th, comes in response to a rise in cases and is designed to prevent tougher restrictions becoming necessary. 

“We need to get back to behaving responsibly right away, even more so with the reopening of schools,” said regional governor Vincenzo De Luca.

“If we want to avoid wider closures we need the utmost rigour.”

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Campania recorded 248 new infections on Wednesday, more than any other region in Italy, with 191 in Naples alone.

The region now requires masks regardless of whether you're socially distanced from others, including outside and throughout the day, though there are exceptions for children under 6, people who can't wear a mask for health reasons, and people exercising on their own.

It is the latest part of Italy to tighten the rules on masks, after the cities of Genoa and La Spezia in Liguria introduced similar requirements.

Since Wednesday it has been obligatory to cover your face 24 hours a day around Genoa's port and throughout the famous alleyways that crisscross its old town.

Genoa province saw 60 new cases on Wednesday, its highest number in weeks and a sharp rise from the beginning of the month, when infections were increasing by single digits. 

Meanwhile in the city of La Spezia, about 80 kilometres south-east of Genoa, face masks were made compulsory outdoors, schools were ordered closed and public gatherings banned in certain neighbourhoods after recording as many as 90 new cases in 24 hours earlier in September.

Almost two weeks after restrictions began to be introduced, the figures have improved – new cases were at 23 on Wednesday – and the city's schools are set to reopen on Monday. 


Shoppers wear masks in Genoa's city centre. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Italian authorities are hoping that introducing timely local restrictions could be the key to avoiding another regional or even national lockdown. 

Genoa's new restrictions are targeted at neighbourhoods where tracking and tracing has revealed the highest number of new infections, according to mayor Marco Bucci.

“In the rest of the city the situation is very good… We're not planning to introduce stricter measures, which would put the city's economy in grave difficulty, ” he told the Corriere della Sera

In the rest of Italy, face masks are compulsory indoors during the day and outdoors between 6pm to 6am if you're in a busy area.

Italian police enforce the rules strictly and there are fines of up to €400 for non-compliance.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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