Vatican City State, Italy now mandate face coverings outdoors
VATICAN CITY, Italy, October 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Vatican City State made wearing masks outdoors compulsory as of Tuesday in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and a day later, Italy followed suit.
Bishop Fernando Vérgez, Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City State sent a letter to Vatican department heads October 6 stating that masks should be worn “in the open air and in all workplaces where distance cannot always be guaranteed,” Catholic News Agency reported.
On Wednesday, Italy imposed a nationwide outdoor mask mandate with fines of up to 1,000 euros (US$1,163) for violators, Associated Press (AP) reported.
Italy’s government passed the order even though the country’s overall per capita infection rate is among the lowest in Europe.
However, the number of COVID cases has risen steadily over the last nine weeks, and Premier Giuseppe Conte said the measure is needed “because we want to avoid at all cost more restrictive measures for production and social activities,” according to AP.
Italy’s new mask mandate requires that people wear masks outdoors, unless they can guarantee they are totally isolated from anyone but family, it reported.
Moreover, masks must now be worn indoors everywhere except in private homes.
“The state can’t ask citizens to wear masks in their own homes,” Conte said. “But we have a strong recommendation for all citizens: Even in our families we have to be careful.”
The measure is in force 24 hours a day, with exceptions for children under the age of six, people with health conditions that preclude wearing masks, and those engaged in exercise.
The mask mandate was part of a government decree extending the state of emergency until Jan. 31, AP reported.
The Lazio region, which includes Rome, passed an ordinance mandating masks outdoors as of October 3, with a $500 fine for non-compliance, according to CNA. It also applies 24 hours a day, and allows the same exceptions as the national mandate.
As for the Vatican’s outdoor mask mandate, it applies to extraterritorial properties in Rome located outside Vatican City, Vérgez said in his letter.
“In all environments this standard must be constantly respected,” he wrote, adding that observing all other measures to restrict the virus is strongly recommended.
Pope Francis was photographed wearing a face covering for the first time on September 9 when he arrived by car for his general audience. However, immediately after he stepped out of the car, the Holy Father removed his mask, according to CNA.
AP reported that the pontiff was not wearing a face mask during his indoor general audience this Wednesday “even as he greeted well-wishers and shook their hands.”
The World Health Organization has not specifically recommended masks outdoors for the general population, but “the trend has taken off in Italy,” it added.
The country added 3,678 new cases and 31 deaths due to the coronavirus to its records on Wednesday, “the highest increase in new cases since the peak of the outbreak in April,” AP stated.
As well as Italy, Spain, Turkey, North Macedonia, India and a number of other Asian countries have imposed nationwide outdoor mask mandates, as have the cities of Paris, Brussels and Pristina, Kosovo.
The Australian state of Victoria has had an outdoor mask mandate for months, and is notorious for its harsh enforcement of the measure.
Moreover, 33 American states and the District of Columbia mandate that masks be worn “in indoor public spaces such as restaurants and stores, on public transit and ride-hailing services, and outdoors when unable to maintain six feet of distance from others,” according to the American Association of Retired People (AARP).
Critics of such regulations assert there is little evidence that masks stop the spread of COVID. Some suggest governments may have other motives for imposing the sweeping measures.
A LifeSiteNews petition opposing mask mandates notes that “Healthy adults and children should not be forced — by the state — to wear masks when the risk of infection is low and the benefit of wearing a mask is highly questionable.”
The petition has been signed by 103,287 people to date.