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Italy end requirement to wear Covid masks outside

Italy took another step towards normality Friday with the reopening of nightclubs and the end of a requirement to wear masks outside, as the number of coronavirus cases eases.

Masks are still required in busy areas and also in all indoor public places, and many of those out and about in central Rome on Friday were still sporting theirs, whether through habit or fear of infection.

“It’s a good thing, if it’s good for tourism and we are still careful,” Spanish tourist Jose Ignacio Santiago told AFP near the Trevi fountain.

He said he would keep his mask handy — “You should always keep it in your pocket in case you approach other people”.

The rules on outdoor masks have fluctuated throughout the pandemic, which hit Italy in early 2020 and has so far killed more than 150,000 people.

The obligation was reimposed in December following a spike in cases attributed to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The requirement for masks indoors is due to expire on March 31, although it could be extended.

Nightclubs were also due to reopen Friday after being closed in December, but revellers must show proof of coronavirus vaccine or recent recovery from the virus, and capacity has been reduced.

The so-called coronavirus Green Pass is required to access most public spaces, from restaurants to the post office.

Italy recorded more than 220,000 daily positive cases in early January, but numbers have since more than halved, according to official health ministry figures.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to advance on this path of reopening,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week.

He highlighted “very encouraging” figures on vaccinations, with more than 91 percent of over-12s having received at least one dose.

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