Italy has made wearing face masks outdoors mandatory after coronavirus cases hit a five-month high.
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 24 April.
Several Italian regions including Lazio, around the capital Rome, had already made face masks mandatory outside.
But officials may find the rule harder to enforce nationwide after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Europeans could be suffering “pandemic fatigue” and be less likely to follow laws.
The face mask decree was approved at a cabinet meeting after a steady increase in cases over the last two months.
It will probably be effective from Thursday, a government source said.
Italy was the first country in Europe to be hard-hit by COVID-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the continent after Britain, with 36,061 dying since the outbreak in February, according to official figures.
The government managed to get the contagion under control by the summer due to a strict lockdown but infections are now rising fast.
The country is testing twice as much as it was at the beginning of the pandemic so more positive tests are expected.
Daily COVID-related deaths remain far lower than during the first wave of Italy's epidemic six months ago.
Around 31 people died of the virus on Wednesday, while 24 April, the last day with more than 3,000 cases, saw 420 deaths.
Italy is still recording far fewer daily cases than other large European countries such as France, Spain and Britain.
France now has 40% of COVID patients in intensive care beds, according to France 24.
The country recorded 10,489 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, with the number of people in intensive care units rising to 1,426.
Italy’s cabinet on Wednesday also approved a decree to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency to 31 January.
The state of emergency, originally due to expire in mid-October, gives greater powers to central government, making it easier for officials to implement changes.
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