Justice Minister Andrea Orlando on Thursday slammed new regulations in Lombardy banning people with covered faces - such as women in burqas - from hospitals and regional offices. "Given that we have a law (on the matter), one does not perceive the need to invent new ones that appear to be of symbolic propaganda flavor," Orlando said. Current law bans the use of helmets "or any other means of making identification difficult" - including clothing - in public without a justifiable motive.

Infractions are punishable with up two years in prison and fines up to 2,000 euros.

"The law on concealment of identity exists, and should be applied," the minister said.

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