Italy imposed a nationwide outdoor mask mandate Wednesday with fines of up to 1,000 euros ($1,163) for violators, as the European country where COVID-19 first hit hard scrambles to keep rebounding infections from spiraling out of control. The government passed the decree even though Italy’s overall per capita infection rate is among the lowest in Europe. But Premier Giuseppe Conte warned that a steady, nine-week rise in infections nationwide demanded new preventive measures to stave off economically-devastating closures and shutdowns, the AP reports. "We have to be more rigorous because we want to avoid at all cost more restrictive measures for production and social activities," Conte said.
Even though the World Health Organization doesn’t specifically recommend masks outdoors for the general population, the trend has taken off in Italy. The new mask mandate was contained in a government decree extending the state of emergency until Jan. 31. It requires residents to have masks on them at all times outdoors, and wear them unless they can guarantee that they can remain completely isolated from anyone other than family. That effectively makes them obligatory outdoors in all urban and semi-urban settings, with exemptions for eating in restaurants and bars. In addition, masks must now be worn indoors everywhere except private homes. Exceptions include for outdoor sporting activities, children under 6, and for people with health conditions that preclude wearing masks.
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