The Italian government on Wednesday made it compulsory to wear face masks outdoors as part of new containment measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The new requirement was approved in a Cabinet meeting which also extended a virus-related state of emergency to Jan. 31, a government spokesman said.
The country-wide rule on face masks is expected to come into force in the coming hours.
The state of emergency a common response to natural or health crises which in Italy allows public authorities to act more quickly and bypass red tape would have otherwise expired on Oct. 15.
“Face masks must be worn at all times’’ except in isolated situations like being alone in a park, Deputy Health Minister Sandra Zampa told RAI public television.
She said children under 6 and people with disabilities or medical conditions incompatible with face masks would be among those exempted from the obligation.
Face masks were already compulsory for outdoor activities in several Italian regions, including Sicily, Campania and Lazio. The latter two are the regions that include Naples and Rome.
Italian authorities are stepping up anti-virus measures after a surge in daily infection numbers, which have reached the highest level seen since late April.
On Tuesday, there were 2,677, bringing the total infection count to 330,263, and 28 new fatalities, taking the overall death toll to 36,030.