Face masks become mandatory in Italy

Women wearing protective face masks carry drinks in Monti neighborhood, as Italy eases some of the lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rome, Italy May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Italy made it mandatory to wear face masks outdoors nationwide in an effort to restrain the spread of the coronavirus.

The decree was approved at a cabinet meeting after a steady increase in cases over the last two months and should become effective from Thursday, a government source said.

Italian regions including Lazio, around the capital Rome, had already made face masks mandatory.

The decision came after the as new infections jumped to the highest daily tally since April. Data from the Health Ministry showed 3,678 cases were reported in the last 24 hours, up from 2,677 on Tuesday and surging past the 3,000 mark for the first time since April 24.

Italy is still recording far fewer daily cases than other large European countries such as France, Spain and Britain.

Meanwhile, Italy will make testing for COVID-19 compulsory for people traveling from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday, following growing concerns about rising cases across Europe.