Masks outdoors may have to go soon

In this file photo, a city hall employee helps a student put on a face mask during the opening of classes at a school in Quezon City, suburban Manila on 22 August 2022. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has “verbally approved” the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to make mask-wearing in public places and well-ventilated areas no longer mandatory.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles announced this in a press briefing yesterday.

Malacañang “highly encouraged” senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals to continue wearing their masks even outdoors.

Speaking to Malacañang reporters, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the optional wearing of masks outdoors, is “not yet a policy” and the DoH, as IATF-EID’s chair, is merely “informing the public about the recommendation.”

She said the optional wearing of masks is only for low-risk individuals and in low-risk settings such as non-crowded open-air spaces.

“We liberalized the use of masks outdoors but for low-risk individuals and in low-risk settings meaning they are not elderly. And low risk setting, meaning in uncrowded areas and with proper air ventilation,” Vergeire said.

She added that the recommendation also includes the pilot study on the wearing of masks indoors in selected areas.

Its implementation, she added, must be done in phases to ensure the population’s protection against Covid-19.

“We are now gathering pieces of evidence, we’re also creating a concept paper where and how the pilot study will be implemented,” Vergeire said.

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