To mask or not to mask was a question Italy answered emphatically early in the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, the pandemic’s former epicentre in Europe hopes that even harsher mask regulations would help it combat the latest infection wave.
As the more transmissible — but presumably less virulent — omicron variety spreads across the continent, other countries are taking similar steps.
With intensive care units in Italian hospitals quickly filling up with mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, the government announced on Christmas Eve that FFP2 masks, which provide more protection than cloth or surgical masks, must be worn on public transport, including planes, trains, ferries and subways.
Despite the fact that, beginning of this week, all travellers in Italy must be vaccinated or have just recovered from COVID-19. FFP2s must now be worn at all times, indoors or out, in theatres, cinemas, and sporting events, and they cannot be removed even to eat or drink.
Italy has restored the requirement for wearing a mask outside. It had never repealed the indoor ban, even though infection rates decreased dramatically in the summer.