In October last year, face masks were made a requirement in all public places – indoors and outdoors – across Italy in response to rising coronavirus infection rates.
The Italian rules state that masks must be worn at all times when out of the house, indoors and outdoors, “except in cases where, due to the characteristics of the place or the circumstances, isolation is continuously guaranteed.”
But on Monday the Italian health minister announced that mask-wearing will no longer be compulsory outdoors from next week, based on new advice from the government’s scientific advisory panel (CTS).
This still doesn’t mean you can just leave your mask at home, however.
Here’s a look at why you’ll still need to make sure you have a mask with you at all times in Italy.
Wearing masks in public indoor spaces, including shops, cinemas, theatres, cultural sites such as museums and galleries and offices remains compulsory for the moment – these rules remain unchanged under the new ordinance signed by the Italian health minister on Wednesday.
Busy outdoor spaces
Face masks will also remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, markets, and other busy outdoor places.
This also includes areas outside public buildings such as schools and churches during busy hours.
Social distancing rules also remain in place, meaning you’re still supposed to stay at least one metre away from anyone you don’t live with.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza told reporters on Wednesday morning that, under the new ordinance. “masks must be worn [outdoors] only when distance cannot be maintained.”
After reviewing the rules on Monday, the CTS stated that there were various situations where you would still have to wear a mask outdoors, saying “people should always carry a mask with them so that they can wear it whenever such conditions arise”.
The CTS confirmed that all other existing rules on wearing masks would remain in place, stating: “the established protocols for the safe operation of economic and recreational activities must be respected”.
This means that staff working in public-facing roles, and anyone working with people who they do not live with, will need to continue wearing a mask at work.
The current rules on wearing masks at school will stay the same, meaning pupils from primary age upwards will still need a mask in class.
Bars and restaurants
As before, all customers at restaurants, cafés and bars must wear a mask at all times when moving around (such as when paying the bill or going to the toilet), both inside and in outdoor seating areas.
Masks can be taken off once you’re sitting at a table, but should be kept on when ordering and paying.
Face masks were made compulsory on public transport early in the pandemic in spring 2020 and the CTS confirmed that this rule is set to stay in place for the foreseeable future.
The CTS said it considered it safe to remove the mask-wearing requirement outdoors in areas classed as low-risk ‘white’ zones only
All of Italy is expected to be ‘white’ by the time the rule change comes in on Monday June 28th, but if the risk classification later changes and any part of the country is put back into the yellow, orange or red zone, the outdoor mask-wearing rules will apply once more.
For ill or at-risk people
The CTS said anyone who has symptoms or suspects they may have Covid-19 should wear a mask in public, while it is “strongly recommended” for vulnerable people, such as those who are immunosuppressed, to continue wearing masks in public.
Are there any exemptions if you’re fully vaccinated?
At the moment, there are no exceptions to Italy’s health measures for those who have been vaccinated, and this includes when it comes to masks.
Italian media reports that the CTS is looking at possible rule changes including allowing people to remove their masks indoors if everyone present is vaccinated, but no such changes have yet been confirmed by the government.