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Coronavirus

Italy Weighing Mandatory Mask Wearing Outdoors

ROME — Italy’s health minister says the government is examining a proposal to make masks mandatory outdoors as the country enters a difficult phase of living alongside COVID-19, with the number of infections growing steadily for the last nine weeks.

Roberto Speranza told the lower house of parliament on Tuesday that as infections spread, it is necessary to return to restrictions that were gradually loosened over the spring and summer months after Italy’s strict nearly three-month lockdown.

‘’We must raise our guard with the awareness that our county is better off than others,’’ Speranza said.

The government is expected to pass new measures by Wednesday making it necessary to wear masks outdoors and limit gatherings. The government also wants to extend the state of emergency put into place on Jan. 31, while the epidemic was still believed confined to China, until the end of January 2022, making it easier to enforce new measures on a national level.

Speranza said the recent uptick in cases has been primarily from gatherings of friends and acquaintances, making it even more pressing for people to wear masks in the presence of those not living in the same household. He noted that there are currently 58,900 cases of the virus in Italy, compared with 12,600 two months ago, an indication of how it is spreading even if it is well below the peaks of last March and April.

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