Rome Imposes Outdoor Mask Mandate Despite Good Coronavirus News

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ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The city of Rome and the entire Italian region of Lazio have imposed a universal outdoor mask mandate beginning Thursday, despite no spike in deaths or patients in intensive care units.

“I signed the ordinance that provides for the obligation of outdoor masks in the Lazio region,” declared the president of the region, Nicola Zingaretti. “This is a precautionary but essential measure for the protection of our health and that of our loved ones at a time like this. This time as well we are keeping our guard up staying ahead of the virus.”

The ordinance, which took effect at 12:00am Thursday and runs through January 23, 2022, compels wearing a personal protective mask in all outdoor places and at all hours, regardless of one’s vaccination status, proof of recovery from the virus, or negative testing.

The ordinance also requires healthcare personnel to undergo a coronavirus test every 10 days at minimum, “in order to intercept promptly any positive cases.”

The mayor of the nearby city of Fiumicino, Esterino Montino, has issued a separate decree banning all public and private events for the entire Christmas holiday period.

The restrictions are based on a rise in positive tests for the virus but fail to take into account the relatively stable numbers of deaths and patients in ICU.

The slight seasonal rise in deaths is well below the numbers from one year ago. For instance, the Italian daily Il sole 24 ore noted that on December 22, 2020, a total of 573 people died with the coronavirus in Italy whereas on the same date in 2021, the number was 126, or less than 22 percent of last year’s figure.

Il sole 24 ore provided superimposed graphs comparing the spike in coronavirus deaths in 2020 to the moderate seasonal rise in deaths for 2021.

coronavirus deaths in Italy 2020-2021.

Coronavirus deaths in Italy 2020-2021.

Regarding the number of coronavirus patients in ICU, there were more than twice as many on Dec. 22, 2020 (2,687) as on the same date in 2021 (1,010).

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