It is mandatory to wear masks in Rome and Lazio now
Face masks will become mandatory again when citizens step out of their homes in the Italian capital Rome and the surrounding Lazio region. This came immediately after a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases in these areas. Lazio is the newest region in Italy to impose the ruling after Campania, Lombardy,, Sicily, and Calabria. Besides that, other cities in Italy have also responded by tightening their restrictions.
Recent spike in new cases prompted the new ruling
The local authorities made the decision in an effort to curb the recent rise of coronavirus infections. Italy on Thursday (1st October) reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since the end of April. Lazio reported 265 of those cases. Of those, 151 were in central Rome. The city of Rome also recorded five deaths. According to data from the regional health authority, there are 49 people currently in intensive care in the region. Apart from that, the regional health authority had also discovered approximately 290 positive cases in schools since they reopened. In response to it, the health authorities said the figure was in line with expectations.
The prompt measure was appropriate as the transmission rate (or R rate) in the region has now exceeded 1. The drastic spike in these cases has raised concerns from many parties in Italy. While national rules already mean masks must be worn outdoors in public places in the evening, Lazio has become the latest region to extend this rule to 24 hours a day. A number of other regions in Italy, including Campania centred on Naples, have already made mask wearing obligatory outdoors before the latest spike in infections. Previously, wearing masks was only compulsory in closed public spaces, such as shops and cinemas.
The ordinance, signed by Lazio regional governor Nicola Zingaretti, will come into full swing on Saturday, October 3rd. The ruling applies to everyone, excluding children under the age of six and those with disabilities which prevent them from wearing a mask. However, citizens do not need to wear masks when they are exercising outdoors alone. Heavy fines up to 400 euros will be given to anyone who doesn’t comply with the rules.
The possible causes of the latest rise of cases in Italy
Lazio’s health chief Alessio D’Amato at a press conference, held at the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital in Rome and broadcast on social media attributed the spike of Covid-19 cases to the lack of awareness in wearing masks and in practising social distancing.
He added that wearing masks is one of the most powerful prevention tools which can stop the curve. Wearing masks also indirectly send a message to all Italian citizens that they must follow laws. As such, he also strongly urged citizens to be more responsible in their actions and rebuild a path of recovery together.
Stricter measures to be taken by the Italian government
Currently, the Italian government is planning to review the existing national rules under the emergency decree on September 7th. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday the government plans to extend the current state of emergency in the country until January 2021.
Italy was the first country in Europe to be swamped by COVID-19. The country also the second-highest death toll in Europe after Britain, with almost 36,000 people dying since the outbreak broke out in February. As of now, Italy has reported 317,409 confirmed cases.
The government managed to get the pandemic under control by the summer with one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world. However, the daily reported cases have gradually picked up over the past two months. In spite of that, the number of daily reported cases in Italy is still far fewer compared to other countries in Europe. In fact, France, Spain and Britain are reporting thousands more cases per day. However, Italian authorities insist that the situation is under control at current rates.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has also dispelled the rumours of returning to a nationwide lockdown. But the Italian officials have revealed the possible stricter measures in the near future to limited areas where Covid-19 infections are prevalent.
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