Rome Reinstates Outdoor Masking Despite Huge Drop in Coronavirus Cases

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ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The city of Rome has reinstated its draconian outdoor mask mandate despite remarkably positive coronavirus data compared to last December.

As of Saturday, December 4, people must wear a mask in all of Rome’s major piazzas and shopping streets, including, for example, the Piazza del Popolo, Piazza di Spagna, Via del Corso, and Via dei Condotti.

The Italian government has extended the national “state of emergency” over and over in the last two years, bypassing the legislative process to grant special powers to the executive branch. Italy’s state of emergency began on January 31, 2020 and is currently scheduled to last until December 31, 2021, although several ministers have suggested that it will be extended once again.

The declaration of a “state of emergency” is not contemplated by the Italian Constitution but is based on a law from February 24, 1992, which received further detailing in the 2018 Civil Protection Code. The Code states, however, that its duration “cannot exceed 12 months, and can be extended for no more than another 12 months.”

A protective mask is seen on the ground near St.Peter's Square, in Rome, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. Italy produced 10% less garbage during its coronavirus lockdown, but environmentalists warn that increased reliance on disposable masks and packaging is imperiling efforts to curb single-use plastics that end up in oceans and seas. (AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia)

A discarded protective mask is seen on the ground near St.Peter’s Square, in central Rome. (AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia)

Over the past two years, the government has taken advantage of its extraordinary powers to issue more than 80 Civil Protection ordinances including several degrees of lockdown, limitations on movement, use of masks, and maximum numbers of persons allowed in one’s residence.

Regarding the actual state of affairs regarding the coronavirus in Italy, it is difficult to see the justification for continued limitation of citizens’ activities.

On December 4, 2020, there were 3,567 coronavirus patients in intensive care units (ICU) in Italy, whereas on the same day in 2021, the number has dropped to just 732, a remarkable 80 percent decrease.

Looking at deaths from the coronavirus, the numbers are starker still. On December 4, 2020, 741 persons died in Italy infected with the coronavirus, whereas on this same date in 2021, only 77 persons died with the virus. This represents a 90 percent decline in deaths from the disease.

The Italian daily Il sole 24 ore published a superimposed graph Saturday comparing deaths with coronavirus in the two years, which clearly shows that the winter spike in deaths that occurred in 2020 has not been replicated in 2021.

coronavirus in Italy 2020-2021

Coronavirus in Italy 2020-2021

Many of those protesting the heightened legal restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus insist that their opposition does not stem from a rejection of the vaccines being offered but from the government’s unacceptable arrogation of power to itself in the intimate affairs of citizens.

Some have begun comparing the Italian government’s attachment to control with that of the communist regime in China, whence the virus proceeded.

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