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UPDATE: Italy’s Lombardy and Campania regions to impose Covid-19 evening curfew

Italy's Lombardy and Campania regions are preparing on Tuesday to impose a nighttime curfew, the most restrictive anti-coronavirus measure seen in Italy since the country emerged from its tough national lockdown in spring.

UPDATE: Italy's Lombardy and Campania regions to impose Covid-19 evening curfew
People wearing protective masks walk across the Piazza del Duomo in Milan on October 17th. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Campania's regional governor announced on Tuesday afternoon that the region has requested a curfew from 11pm on Friday, Italian media reports.
 
“Everything will close at 23:00 on Friday in Campania, the same as Lombardy has requested,” Campania governor Vincenzo De Luca said.
 
 
He said Campania would ask for the all-clear from central government “by the end of the day”.
 
“All activities and transport will be halted from this weekend on,” he said.
 
He gave no details immediately on how it would work or how long it would last.
 
In Lombardy, the curfew from 11pm to 5am is expected to begin on Thursday night and last until at least November 13th. 
 
Health Minister Roberto Speranza gave his consent late Monday to the more restrictive measures proposed by the Lombardy regional government, after an hours-long meeting.
 
 
“It's an appropriate and symbolically important initiative that shouldn't have particularly serious economic consequences,” Regional President Attilio Fontana told newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday.
 
Campania will have to get the same go-ahead from the government before its curfew can come into force.
 
Lombardy's curfew is expected to only allow people to leave their home for reasons of health, work or necessity.
 
The new decree will also call for medium and large non-food shops and shopping centres to be shut on weekends, according to Italian media reports.
 
Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II on October 17th. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
 
Italian authorities reported more than 10,000 new Covid-19 infections on Friday for the time ever, with Lombardy the hardest hit region, as it was in the beginning of the health crisis in February.
 
The region, which includes Italy's financial hub of Milan, reported 1,687 new cases on Monday, with Italy's southern Campania region coming a close second with 1,593.
 
On Saturday, Lombardy ordered its bars to shut at midnight and prohibited the consumption of food and drink in public outside areas.
 
Italy's government has over the past two weeks repeatedly tightened national restrictions to try to stem the new wave of infections.
 
Rules include banning amateur contact sports and school trips, and restricting bars and restaurants to table service after 6pm.
 
However Lombardy is the first part of the country to impose a curfew.
 
 
In the past week, from October 12-19, the number of those hospitalized with Covid-19 in Lombardy has jumped 145 percent.
 
“There's no more social distancing,” one Milan newspaper stand owner told AFP.
 
“A few weeks ago, they took off the (social distancing) markers on the ground and if you go into the subway or the tram it's chaos,” said Alessandro
Sigolo, 57.
 
Francesco Bini, head of the pulmonology department at Milan's Garbagnate Hospital, said Lombardy's density and business activity was exacerbating transmission of the virus.
 
“Lombardy is a very dynamic region, very active, with a large population, concentrated particularly in the cities,” Bini told AFP.
 
“Doing a lot of things, seeing a lot of people, having a lot of work and meeting activities facilitates the spread of the virus.”
 
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he does not envision another country-wide lockdown, which would further sap Italy's struggling economy, but has said that he would not rule out localised restrictions.
 
Health experts in Italy on Tuesday criticised the latest national measures are being “too bland” and “lacking a strategy”.
 
Since Italy became the first hard-hit European country earlier this year, more than 36,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the country.
 

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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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