Italian region makes face masks compulsory in public at all times

The southern Italian region of Campania has ordered people to wear face masks anytime they're in public, even outdoors, after a rise in new cases of coronavirus.

Italian region makes face masks compulsory in public at all times
Campania is the latest part of Italy to make face masks compulsory in public, even outside. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Under a new ordinance on Thursday, masks are now compulsory 24 hours a day throughout the region, which includes Italy's third biggest city of Naples. 

The new rule, which will remain in place until at least October 4th, comes in response to a rise in cases and is designed to prevent tougher restrictions becoming necessary. 

“We need to get back to behaving responsibly right away, even more so with the reopening of schools,” said regional governor Vincenzo De Luca.

“If we want to avoid wider closures we need the utmost rigour.”


Campania recorded 248 new infections on Wednesday, more than any other region in Italy, with 191 in Naples alone.

The region now requires masks regardless of whether you're socially distanced from others, including outside and throughout the day, though there are exceptions for children under 6, people who can't wear a mask for health reasons, and people exercising on their own.

It is the latest part of Italy to tighten the rules on masks, after the cities of Genoa and La Spezia in Liguria introduced similar requirements.

Since Wednesday it has been obligatory to cover your face 24 hours a day around Genoa's port and throughout the famous alleyways that crisscross its old town.

Genoa province saw 60 new cases on Wednesday, its highest number in weeks and a sharp rise from the beginning of the month, when infections were increasing by single digits. 

Meanwhile in the city of La Spezia, about 80 kilometres south-east of Genoa, face masks were made compulsory outdoors, schools were ordered closed and public gatherings banned in certain neighbourhoods after recording as many as 90 new cases in 24 hours earlier in September.

Almost two weeks after restrictions began to be introduced, the figures have improved – new cases were at 23 on Wednesday – and the city's schools are set to reopen on Monday. 

Shoppers wear masks in Genoa's city centre. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Italian authorities are hoping that introducing timely local restrictions could be the key to avoiding another regional or even national lockdown. 

Genoa's new restrictions are targeted at neighbourhoods where tracking and tracing has revealed the highest number of new infections, according to mayor Marco Bucci.

“In the rest of the city the situation is very good… We're not planning to introduce stricter measures, which would put the city's economy in grave difficulty, ” he told the Corriere della Sera

In the rest of Italy, face masks are compulsory indoors during the day and outdoors between 6pm to 6am if you're in a busy area.

Italian police enforce the rules strictly and there are fines of up to €400 for non-compliance.

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Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is set to undergo a judicial inquiry over claims his government's response to the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020 was too slow.

Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Prosecutors in Bergamo, the northern city that was one of the epicentres of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, targeted Conte after wrapping up their three-year inquiry, according to media reports.

Conte, now president of the populist Five Star movement, was prime minister from 2018 to 2021 and oversaw the initial measures taken to halt the spread of what would become a global pandemic.

Investigating magistrates suspect that Conte and his government underestimated the contagiousness of Covid-19 even though available data showed that cases were spreading rapidly in Bergamo and the surrounding region.

They note that in early March 2020 the government did not create a “red zone” in two areas hit hardest by the outbreak, Nembro and Alzano Lombardo, even though security forces were ready to isolate the zone from the rest of the country.

READ ALSO: ‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Red zones had already been decreed in late February for around a dozen other nearby municipalities including Codogno, the town where the initial Covid case was reportedly found.

Conte’s health minister Roberto Speranza as well as the president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, are also under investigation, the reports said.

Bergamo prosecutors allege that according to scientific experts, earlier quarantines could have saved thousands of lives.

Conte, quoted by Il Corriere della Sera and other media outlets, said he was “unworried” by the inquiry, saying his government had acted “with the utmost commitment and responsibility during one of the most difficult moments of our republic.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s constitutional court upholds Covid vaccine mandate as fines kick in

Similar cases have been lodged against officials elsewhere, alleging that authorities failed to act quickly enough against a virus that has killed an estimated 6.8 million people worldwide since early 2020.

In January, France’s top court threw out a case against former health minister Agnes Buzyn, a trained doctor, over her allegedly “endangering the lives of others” by initially playing down the severity of Covid-19.