Wearing them indoors, outdoors now voluntary under EO 7
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday signed an executive order (EO) allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in indoor settings.
The liberalization of the face mask mandate has been recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) through its Resolution 3 (series 2022).
Mask-wearing is still encouraged for the elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised persons, pregnant women, unvaccinated individuals, and symptomatic individuals, according to the EO.
“A policy of voluntary wearing of face masks in both indoor and outdoor settings is a positive step towards normalization, and a welcome development that would encourage activities and boost efforts toward the full reopening of the economy,” Marcos said.
The minimum public health standards (MPHS) will continue to be strictly enforced.
The EO also directs the Department of Health to update the MPHS guidelines.
Marcos, meanwhile, encouraged provinces, highly-urbanized cities, independent component cities, and municipalities with low-risk classification but Alert Level 2 status to meet vaccination targets to undertake efforts in expanding their vaccination and booster coverage.
In September, Marcos signed EO 3, allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings, particularly in open spaces and non-crowded areas with good ventilation.
The latest order comes more than a month after Marcos Jr. allowed the voluntary use of face masks in outdoor settings.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Philippines has logged 3.99 million COVID-19 infections, of which 21,215 are considered active cases, latest data from the DOH showed. The tally includes over 63,000 fatalities.
So far, some 73.5 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against the disease. Those who have received the additional jab is at 20.5 million.
Despite the issuance Friday night by Malacanang of the executive order on the voluntary wearing of face masks, senators still prefer the public to continue wearing face masks, saying COVID-19 is still here.
Senator Risa Hontiveros maintains it is better to continue wearing masks in indoor spaces as long as the coronavirus mutates.
While there are new variants emerging, Hontiveros said it is not bad to continue using face masks in indoor and airconditioned places.
She said face masks can also be used even outdoors if there are elderly members or immunocompromised in a family.
The senator also cited the coming All Saints or “Undas” and Christmas seasons, when there would be many family gatherings or reunions that could transmit the virus.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate health committee, also encouraged wearing of face masks if there are members of the family who are sick, elderly, and immunocompromised.
He said face mask should still be used outdoors in crowded areas.
If the use if face mask would not be a hindrance, Go said it would still be better to wear it as added protection.
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