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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‘No Meloni’: Why students across Italy are protesting on Friday

Some disruption was expected in central Rome, Milan and other Italian cities on Friday amid student protests against the new government's policies on education.

'No Meloni': Why students across Italy are protesting on Friday

Thousands of Italian students were reportedly taking to the streets on Friday to demand more investment in the country’s schools and universities – something they say is not a priority for the new hard-right government led by Giorgia Meloni.

Italian student unions Unione degli Studenti and Rete degli Studenti organised the day of coordinated demonstrations, which they dubbed ‘No Meloni Day’ in protest at the new prime minister’s stance on education.

Protestors said they were against her government’s focus on “meritocracy” after the education ministry was renamed the ‘Ministry for Education and Merit’.

Critics of the ministry’s new name say it promotes the idea that academic achievement is based solely on effort, and ignores structural injustices that prevent low-income students from progressing in school.

Alice Beccari, Unione degli Studenti communications manager, told Italian media that the group was however not protesting “exclusively” against the current government’s ideology.

“As in past years, we protest against reforms aimed at the privatisation and industrialisation of schools,” she said.

The main protest in Rome was expected to cause some disruption to bus services, as students march from Circo Massimo to the offices of Italy’s education ministry in the Trastevere district.