UK Markets closed

Italy makes face masks compulsory outdoors all the time as cases hit five-month high

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 03: People wearing protective masks walk near Castel SantAngelo amid Covid-19 pandemic, on October 03, 2020 in Rome, Italy. The Lazio region President Nicola Zingaretti set an order obliging people to wear face masks in public including outdoors due to the increase of Covid-19 cases in the Lazio region. (Photo by Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)
People wearing protective masks walk near Castel Sant' Angelo in Rome. (Getty)

Italy has made wearing face masks outdoors mandatory after coronavirus cases hit a five-month high.

Data from the health ministry showed 3,678 cases were reported in the last 24 hours, up from 2,677 on Tuesday and surging past the 3,000 mark for the first time since 24 April.

Several Italian regions including Lazio, around the capital Rome, had already made face masks mandatory outside.

But officials may find the rule harder to enforce nationwide after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Europeans could be suffering “pandemic fatigue” and be less likely to follow laws.

The face mask decree was approved at a cabinet meeting after a steady increase in cases over the last two months.

It will probably be effective from Thursday, a government source said.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be hard-hit by COVID-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the continent after Britain, with 36,061 dying since the outbreak in February, according to official figures.

The government managed to get the contagion under control by the summer due to a strict lockdown but infections are now rising fast.

The country is testing twice as much as it was at the beginning of the pandemic so more positive tests are expected.

Daily COVID-related deaths remain far lower than during the first wave of Italy's epidemic six months ago.

Around 31 people died of the virus on Wednesday, while 24 April, the last day with more than 3,000 cases, saw 420 deaths.

TURIN, ITALY - OCTOBER 05: Young girl wear protective mask fix the mask outside the Liceo Classico and Musicale Cavour school on October 05, 2020 in Turin, Italy. From Monday 5 October, the ordinance of the Piedmont Region introduces the obligation to wear the mask even outdoors in all pertinent areas of schools of all levels or in front of them (for example parking lots, gardens, squares and sidewalks in front at the entrances and exits of the institutes). The provision also includes all the places of waiting, boarding and disembarking of school public transport. (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)
School children wear masks in Turin. (Getty)

Italy is still recording far fewer daily cases than other large European countries such as France, Spain and Britain.

France now has 40% of COVID patients in intensive care beds, according to France 24.

The country recorded 10,489 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, with the number of people in intensive care units rising to 1,426.

Italy’s cabinet on Wednesday also approved a decree to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency to 31 January.

The state of emergency, originally due to expire in mid-October, gives greater powers to central government, making it easier for officials to implement changes.

Watch: Paris cafes shut as Europe confronts second virus wave

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter