Italy lifts outdoor mask mandate amid easing of covid rules

Masks no longer required in most outdoor areas in Italy.

Italy lifts its outdoor mask mandate on Friday 11 February, with the government pledging to relax other restrictions amid an improving coronavirus situation.

The obligation to wear masks will now only apply in crowded outdoor areas, as well as in public indoor venues, and people are still required to carry masks with them in case needed.

However there is one exception to the nationwide easing of mask restrictions: in the southern Campania region around Naples, the governor Vincenzo De Luca has ordered that masks must be worn outdoors until 28 February.

Italy's new mask rules will remain in effect until 31 March, with the scheduled end of the nation's state of emergency, the mechanism granting authorities special powers to implement, modify or revoke urgent measures as required.

On Monday Italy's deputy health minister Andrea Costa said the government intends not to extend the emergency legislation, which was introduced on 31 January 2020 and has been extended several times over the last two years.

Ending the state of emergency would pave the way for the eventual easing of the Green Pass system which dominates day-to-day life in Italy and is required to access most activities and services.

There is currently a two-tiered system in place, with the "basic" version of the Green Pass available via a negative covid test result, alongside the "Super" version which can only be obtained by people who are vaccinated or have recovered from covid.

Health undersecretary Costa told RAI television on Thursday that he could foresee a "gradual softening" in March in relation to the Super Green Pass, "perhaps starting with outdoor places," reports news agency ANSA.

"We are still in a phase of fighting covid even if there are encouraging signs, with a decrease of 30 per cent of cases in a week" - health minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday - "This was possible thanks to to an extraordinary vaccination campaign."

Also on 11 February, Italy's nightclubs, discos and dance halls are permitted to reopen after having been shut since just before New Year's Eve, subject to covid restrictions.

Under the new rules, a Super Green Pass will be needed to enter clubs and masks will be required unless on the dance floor, with venues operating to a maximum capacity of 50 per cent indoors and 75 per cent outdoors.

There are also plans to steadily increase the capacity of sports stadiums from 1 March, when the proposed maximum attendance outdoors would rise to 75 per cent (currently 50 per cent) and up to 60 per cent in indoor stadiums (currently 35 per cent).
The government recently eased some restrictions for schools and vaccinated people - including a Green Pass of unlimited duration for those who have had the third "booster" shot - with premier Mario Draghi promising to move towards an "even greater reopening of the country".

Nicola Magrini, the head of Italy's medicines agency AIFA, told RAI television on Thursday that there will not be a fourth covid vaccine dose in the coming months but that there would "probably be an annual follow-up jab", describing it as something "we need to get used to".

Life remains difficult for the unvaccinated in Italy, with the Super Green Pass required on public transport, in bars and restaurants, gyms, hotels, cinemas, theatres, malls and sports stadiums.

The "basic" Green Pass is needed to enter post offices, banks, public offices and tobacconists, in addition to hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons.

From 15 February all public and private workers aged over 50 will need a Super Green Pass to access their workplace, under Italy's controversial vaccine mandate for the over-50s.

Earlier this week there was speculation that the mandate to wear masks indoors might end on 1 April however government sources subsequently told ANSA that this is "not a given" and any decision in this regard would depend on the epidemiological situation.

On Thursday Italy registered 75,861 new covid cases over the previous 24 hours, and 325 more coronavirus-related deaths, according to the latest figures from the health ministry.

More than 88 per cent of Italy's population over the age of 12 has been vaccinated and 35 million people have received a third dose.


For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy (in English) see the health ministry website