Italy further eases Covid-19 rules

From May 1, face masks will no longer be required in bars, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets. PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME (AFP) - Italy will further ease coronavirus restrictions this weekend, dropping the requirement for a vaccine pass and limiting the need to wear masks.

From Sunday (May 1), face masks will no longer be required in bars, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets, or in most workplaces across Italy, as they have been since 2020.

However, they remain recommended in workplaces and medical grade FFP2 masks will still be needed on public transport and for indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres, as well as indoor sports competitions.

Schoolchildren over the age of six will continue to wear masks until the end of the academic year in June, as will staff and visitors to health facilities.

The government has also scrapped the requirement to show the so-called Green Pass offering proof of vaccination, recent recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test to enter almost every place open to the public.

But health workers must still be vaccinated.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday that the measures were consistent with the government's "gradual approach".

"The numbers tell us that the pandemic is still ongoing and a cautious approach is needed," he said, after the government recorded another 69,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday.

"We must insist on the vaccination campaign and on the use of masks in all occasions where there is a risk of contagion."

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020 and has had some of the toughest restrictions.

More than 163,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy, with 131 new deaths recorded on Thursday.

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