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Rome region orders masks to be worn outdoors amid covid surge in Italy

Rome mask-wearing rules in force over Christmas and into the new year.

The governor of the central Lazio region around Rome, Nicola Zingaretti, has ordered the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors from 23 December until 23 January 2022.

The move comes amid a surge of new covid infections in Italy, with the government meeting on Thursday to discuss fresh measures in light of concerns over the highly contagious Omicron virus variant.

Masks were already compulsory outdoors in crowded central areas of Rome, following an order by the city's mayor Roberto Gualtieri earlier this month.

However as of today this obligation applies throughout the city and across the Lazio region.

The new measures do not apply to children under six, to those with disabilities or to people engaged in physical exercise such as jogging.

Zingaretti described the move as "a precautionary but essential measure for safeguarding our health and that of our loved ones at a time like this."

The order also includes a requirement for healthcare workers, in both the public and private sector, to undergo covid testing every 10 days.

Wearing masks outdoors is compulsory in low-moderate risk 'yellow' zones, under Italy's system of coronavirus restrictions, with seven regions now in this category: Alto Adige, Calabria, Fruili-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Marche, Trentino and Veneto.

The rest of Italy is, for now, in the lowest-risk 'white' zone, although the threat of possible yellow zone restrictions hangs over Lazio (Rome) and Lombardia (Milan) for the new year.

Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday that there is "an element of concern" within the government over the evolving covid situation, and urged people to "avoid gatherings as much as possible during the Christmas holidays."

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has reported that among the possible new restrictions being discussed is extending compulsory vaccination to additional sectors of workers and requiring covid tests for crowded venues such as night clubs, including for people who have been vaccinated.

Italy's premier Mario Draghi has confirmed that the government is considering new restrictions but said that no decisions have been made ahead of today's meeting.

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

Cover image: Piazza di Spagna, Rome, November 2021. Photo credit: Gennaro Leonardi Photos /

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