The government is “reflecting” on whether it needs to tighten the outdoor mask-wearing rules, Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa said in an interview on TV channel Rai1 on Tuesday.
He noted that mask use is already mandatory outdoors in Italy “in cases where gatherings occur,” adding: “I realise there may be a need to emphasise this rule more clearly at such a delicate moment “.
“We are facing a period in which it is reasonable to think that there will be a greater concentration of people on our streets,” he said.
“Obviously we are reflecting on this and we will assess things over the next few days”.
Regional leaders have called on the government to tighten the rules in recent days as the infection rate continues to rise across Italy and concern rises about the possible impact of the new Omicron variant after cases were detected in the country over the weekend.
Meanwhile, local authorities in several Italian cities have already announced their own outdoor mask mandates.
Turin has made masks compulsory outdoors from December 2nd-January 15th in the historic centre, at markets and in nightlife areas, news agency Ansa reports.
Bergamo has brought in similar rules from November 27th until January 1st, and Bologna too has mandated masks outdoors in the historic centre between November 26th and January 9th.
Children under the age of six are exempt from mask-wearing rules in Italy.
The region of Friuli Venezia Giulia was declared a ‘yellow’ low-moderate risk zone from Monday, meaning masks become mandatory again at all times when outdoors in public, while the rest of Italy currently remains in the lowest-risk ‘white’ zone.
In a bid to keep the spread under control, the governent will implement other tightened health measures from December 6th.
This includes incentivising vaccine uptake by increasing restrictions for those who have yet to get the jab with the introduction of a so-called ‘Super green pass’.
Italy’s current Covid-19 green pass health certificate will no longer allow access to “non-essential” services including leisure and cultural venues unless the bearer is vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19.