The Italian government will extend the state of COVID-19 emergency until January 31 next year, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Tuesday.
The country initially introduced the emergency on January 31, after first COVID-19 cases among foreign tourists were detected. Under the emergency, the cabinet is not bound to seek parliamentary approval to make key decisions on COVID-19 response, triggering dismay from the opposition.
"Our course should be prudence and caution. Therefore, I believe that the government's choice to extend the emergency situation until January 31 is right. I believe that this fully corresponds to the epidemiological period that we are experiencing," Speranza told the upper house.
Earlier in the day, Speranza also addressed the lower house to present a government decree on COVID-19 measures, which is set to be approved on Wednesday. The minister, in particular, offered to make wearing face masks outdoors obligatory.
Italy has so far confirmed more than 327,000 COVID-19 cases, including over 233,000 recoveries and 36,002 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
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