Italy scraps outdoor mask mandate

Italy scraps outdoor mask mandate

Italy's government on Tuesday lifted an obligation to wear masks outdoors under most circumstances in response to an improving coronavirus situation, and said it aimed to raise attendance limits at stadiums.

Under new rules set by Health Minister Roberto Speranza, from Feb. 11 until at least March 31 it will be necessary to wear protective masks only in crowded areas and at indoor public venues, Reuters reported.

Earlier, Speranza and Sports Minister Valentina Vezzali said the government aimed to steadily increase the attendance limits at sports stadiums from March 1.

The ministers said in a statement that from that date they intended to raise attendance ceilings to 75% of capacity for outside stadiums and 60% for indoor ones. The limits currently stand at 50% of capacity outside and 35% inside.

Italy's rate of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations has been gradually declining in recent weeks, but the death toll remains stubbornly high, with between 300 and 450 fatalities on most days. Tuesday saw 101,864 new cases and 415 deaths.