A mayor of a northern Italian town decided on Wednesday to slap a hefty fine on women seen wearing the Islamic head-to-toe swimsuit or 'burkini' in local pools.

Gianluca Buonanno, the mayor of Varallo Sesia in the northwestern region of Piedmont, said the sight of "a masked woman could cause dismay, especially among children" enjoying a day at the pool.

Buonanno, who is also an MP with the devolutionist Northern League party, said he was similarly concerned that the costume might pose "hygienic problems".

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