Italy will lift a requirement that people wear face masks outdoors from 28 June, the government said late last night, as cases and hospitalisations decline.
Mandatory masks were imposed in October last year, when the country was entering a second wave of the epidemic and authorities were struggling to curb surging infections.
Mario Draghi’s government has been steadily lifting restrictions since April, opening activities such as restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms and allowing freedom of movement around the country.
The wearing of masks was one of the last rules to remain in place, and it will still be required in indoor public areas.
The decision will be effective from next Monday when the whole nation is expected to be “a Covid white zone”, the lowest risk level in Italy’s four-tier colour-coded system to calibrate curbs in its 20 regions.
Nineteen of the regions are already white, the exception being the tiny northern area of Valle d’Aosta which is yellow, denoting the second-lowest risk level.
“From 28 June we will leave behind the need to wear masks outside in white zones,” health minister Roberto Speranza posted on Facebook after receiving advice from the government’s board of experts.
Italians should still carry a mask with them when they leave home and be ready to wear it outdoors if there is a crowd, reports Reuters.