Italy drops outdoor mask rule as entire country now covid-19 ‘white zone’

Move comes amid concern about rising cases of the Delta coronavirus variant in Italy.

Wearing masks outdoors in Italy is longer required from Monday 28 June with the entire country now in the lowest-risk 'white zone' category under the national system of coronavirus restrictions.

People in Italy are no longer obliged to wear masks outdoors, provided they are not in a crowded area, however the requirement to carry a mask remains in place.

The wearing of masks is still required in public indoors spaces and on public transport, and is "strongly recommended" in the company of frail, "at risk" people, according to guidelines from the government's technical scientific committee (CTS).

The move to an entirely 'white' Italy comes as the last remaining region - Valle D'Aosta on the Italian border with France and Switzerland - became a 'zona bianca' on 28 June.

To be classified as a white zone, a region must have recorded fewer than 50 covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three consecutive weeks.

In an interview with La Repubblica yesterday, the national health institute (ISS) president Silvio Brusaferro said: "We have only 11 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days at a national level," but cautioned that "if infections go up we will be forced to put the masks back on."

The move to relax mask-wearing coincides with growing concerns in Italy about the Delta and Kappa coronavirus strains, which accounted for almost 17 per cent of total covid-19 cases in the past month, according to figures released this weekend by the ISS.

Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza welcomed the nationwide 'white zone' status, describing it on Twitter as "an encouraging result" but warned that "caution and prudence are still needed, especially in light of the new variants. The battle is not yet won."

On Sunday Italy registered 14 coronavirus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours - down from 40 fatalities recorded the day before - and 782 new covid infections, down from 838 on Saturday, according to the latest data released by the health ministry.

For official information relating to the covid-19 situation in Italy - in English - see the health ministry website.

Photo credit: Antonello Marangi / Shutterstock.com.