Covid-19: Rome makes face masks compulsory in public at all times

Authorities in Rome and the surrounding Lazio region have ordered that masks must be worn at all times when in public following a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases locally.

Covid-19: Rome makes face masks compulsory in public at all times
A pedestrian wearing a face mask by Piazza Venezia in downtown Rome. Photo: AFP

While national rules already mean masks must be worn outdoors in public places in the evening, Lazio is the latest region to extend this rule to 24 hours a day.

“Masks are also mandatory during the day in Lazio,” said regional health councilor Alessio D'Amato at a press conference on Friday morning, held at the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital in Rome and broadcast on social media.

The ordinance, signed by Lazio regional governor Nicola Zingaretti, will come into force tomorrow, Saturday October 3rd.
D'Amato confirmed that the provision applies to everyone except for children under the age of six and those with disabilities which prevent them from wearing a mask. Masks do not need to be worn by people exercising outdoors if they are alone.

Anyone who doesn't comply with the rules can be fined up to 400 euros.

“Masks are a powerful prevention tool which can stop the curve and send a message that we must follow rules,” he added.  “We need to rebuild together a path of responsibility as we have done in recent months together.”

The measure had to be introduced as the transmission rate (or R rate) in the region has now exceeded 1, D'Amato said.
On Thursday Lazio recorded its highest number of new cases in one day since the beginning of the emergency, with 265 new infections detected in the region.
Of those, 151 were in central Rome, and the city also recorded five deaths.
There are 49 people currently in intensive care in the region according to data from the regional health authority.
D'Aamato added during the press conference that, in total, the regional health authority had found some 290 positive cases in schools since they reopened.
He said this figure was in line with expectations.

Lazio is the latest Italian region to make masks compulsory at all times in public, after Lombardy, Campania, Sicily, and Calabria. Several cities in Italy have also tightened restrictions after a sharp rise in cases.
Italy registered 2,548 new covid-19 infections on Thursday – the first time the number has exceeded 2,000 since April 29th.
The Veneto region recorded the most new infections with 445, followed by Campania with 390.

The number of new cases, as well as deaths and hospitalisations, has been rising in Italy for several weeks now. However Italian authorties insist that the situation can be kept under control at current rates.
Amid a new surge in cases across Europe, Italy overall is still seeing far lower levels of transmission than other European countries such as the UK, France and Spain.
Italian authorities are hoping that introducing timely local restrictions could be the key to avoiding another regional or even national lockdown.

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.

The government is set to review exisiting national rules under the emergency decree on September 7th.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday the government plans to extend the current state of emergency in the country until January 2021.


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‘I love Italy’: Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

US actor Jason Momoa apologised after fans reacted angrily to him taking snaps in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel despite a strict photography ban.

'I love Italy': Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

Anyone who has visited the Sistine Chapel will recall the firm and repeated warnings from security staff: “no photos, please”.

But there has been an outcry in Italy and beyond after ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa apparently paid to be allowed to disregard this rule on a recent visit to the Vatican City with friends.

Momoa. 42, is currently in Rome shooting ‘Fast X’, the 10th installment in the ‘Fast & Furious’ film saga.

He posted snaps and videos of himself on May 9th posing below the famous frescoes painted by Michelangelo with friends and what appear to be Vatican Museums staff.

But disgruntled fans quickly pointed out in the comments that visitors are typically forbidden from taking photos or videos in the chapel.
“We can’t take pics but celebrities can, nothing against Jason (I adore him) but it’s not fair,” one person wrote.

“All I remember about that place was ‘no photos please’,” another person wrote.

Others took issue with a video showing him reaching over a rope barrier to touch a sculpture. 

“I cringed when he rubbed his hands on the art … not cool, dude,” one person commented.

On Saturday, Momoa posted another video in which he apologised for causing offence.
“If you ever thought I disrespected your culture, that wasn’t my intention,” he said in the video, in which he appears shirtless in the gym apparently following a workout.
He said he had given the chapel “a wonderful donation to bring my friends and crew because we only had a couple days off to go experience these places.”

“I would never want to do anything to disrespect someone’s culture,” he added.

“So if I did, I apologise and it wasn’t my intention. And I definitely paid to have that private moment and gave a nice donation to the church.”

The Sistine Chapel and the rest of the Vatican Museums complex is currently open to visitors as normal, following closures and limitations on visitor numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Regular online tickets cost €17 (around $21) via the official Vatican website. It is also possible to book a two-hour private tour of the Vatican Museums for €78 per person – though the booking website doesn’t mention any exceptions to the photography ban in the Sistine Chapel.