Lifting of mask restrictions to apply to all regions in "sign of hope" for Italy.
The Italian government is to lift the outdoor face mask mandate on 11 February, the country's deputy health minister Andrea Costa said on Monday.
Costa told Italian news agency ANSA that health minster Roberto Speranza will sign an order dropping the requirement to wear masks outdoors "throughout Italy" from 11 February, regardless of a region's risk status under the government's colour-coded system of covid restrictions.
Describing the move as "a sign of hope for all Italians", Costa said: "We must give a positive sign, for two years our citizens have respected rules and restrictions and have joined the vaccination campaign en masse."
However, the decision to drop the obligation of outdoor masks, he warned, "does not mean abandoning caution."
Costa also told Italian television programme Tagadà on La7 that the government's goal is not to extend the state of emergency after the current legislation comes to an end on 31 March.
"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 Speranza said on Monday - "This was possible thanks to to an extraordinary vaccination campaign."
Last week the government eased some restrictions for schools and people who are vaccinated against covid - including a Green Pass of indefinite duration for those who have had the third "booster" shot - with premier Mario Draghi pledging to move towards an "even greater reopening of the country".
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.
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