ROME (AFP): Italy’s outgoing government is easing measures against coronavirus from Saturday despite an increase in cases, weeks before handing over to a far-right administration that has criticised the tough restrictions.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government said it would not renew regulations requiring FFP2 face masks to be worn on public transport when they expire on Friday.
However, it has extended for another month the requirement to wear face masks in hospitals and other healthcare settings, as well as residential facilities for the elderly.
By the time that rule expires on October 31, a new government led by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is expected to be in place — with a very different attitude to Covid-19 restrictions than Draghi’s.
Italy was the first European country to face the full force of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has had some of the toughest restrictions.
Last winter, it required certain categories of workers to be vaccinated and demanded proof of a negative test, recent recovery from the virus or vaccination — the so-called Green pass — to enter public places.
The pass was strongly criticised by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which swept to a historic victory in elections on Sunday.
“We are against this certificate, full stop,” the party’s head of health policy, Marcello Gemmato, La Repubblica newspaper on Friday.
He said it gave “false security” because even after vaccination, people could get and spread coronavirus.
Gemmato said vaccines should be targeted at older people and those with health problems, but not be obligatory, adding that the requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated would not be renewed when it expires at the end of the year.
Cases of coronavirus are rising slightly again in Italy, likely due to the return of schools and universities.
More than 177,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy since the start of the pandemic.
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