Italian government sources put brakes on media reports about imminent end of indoor mask requirement.
Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza confirmed on Tuesday night the relaxing of the nation's outdoor mask mandate, as announced a day earlier by deputy health minister Andrea Costa.
From Friday 11 February, the obligation to wear masks outdoors will only apply in crowded areas, as well as in public indoor venues, with people still required to carry masks on their person in case needed.
The new nationwide rules will remain in effect until 31 March, when Italy's state of emergency is due to end, leading numerous Italian news outlets to speculate on Wednesday morning that the indoor mask mandate would no longer apply from 1 April.
However, citing "qualified government sources", news agency ANSA reported subsequently that the dropping of the requirement to wear masks indoors is not a given, "either from 1 April or when the state of emergency ends", with all potential decisions to be based on the epidemiological situation.
The government is also aiming to steadily increase the permitted capacity of sports stadiums from 1 March, when the proposed maximum attendance outdoors will rise to 75 per cent (from the current 50 per cent) and up to 60 per cent in indoor stadiums (currently 35 per cent).
Last week the government 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".
Deputy health minister Costa said on Italian television on Monday that the aim of the government is not to extend the emergency legislation when it ends on 31 March, which would pave the way for the eventual easing of the Green Pass rules.
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.