Italy makes wearing of masks mandatory in outdoor spaces

Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital Health Director Francesco Vaia gestures on the day of the first human trials of an Italian-developed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, with doses administered to 90 volunteers over 7 months, in Rome, Italy

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday announced his government’s decision to make wearing of masks mandatory in outdoor spaces in an effort to curb the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his announcement, Conte said that latest measure was required to avoid returning to another economically devastating lockdown in Italy, one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, the BBC reported.

“From now on, masks and protective gear have to be brought with us when we leave our house and worn. We have to wear them all the time unless we are in a situation of continuous isolation,” he was quoted as saying.

Besides outdoor spaces, masks must also be worn in shops, offices, on public transport, and in bars and restaurants when not seated at a table, the Prime Minister further said.

Italians faced some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world when the country became the first in Europe to be overwhelmed by the pandemic earlier in the year.

Although it has managed to keep the virus in check more successfully than many other European countries in recent months, cases in the last 24 hours have surged past the 3,000 mark for the first time since April 24, registering 3,678 new infections, according to the Health Ministry.

On Wednesday, the country also announced compulsory testing for anyone travelling from the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

As of Thursday, the total number of coronavirus cases in Italy increased to more than 334,000, while the death toll stood at 36,061.

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