PBBM issues EO allowing voluntary mask-wearing indoors and outdoors

However, the EO said mask-wearing remains mandatory in healthcare facilities, medical transport, and public transportation by land, air, or sea
Photo: Bongbong Marcos | Facebook
Photo: Bongbong Marcos | Facebook

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Friday issued Executive Order no. 7, formally allowing the voluntary wearing of masks in indoor and outdoor settings.

Based on the copy of the EO published by state-run PTV-4, the President stated that through Resolution No. 3, the Inter-Agency Task Force recommended the further liberalization of the mask mandate to make the wearing of masks in indoor settings optional or voluntary.

However, the EO said mask-wearing remains mandatory in healthcare facilities, medical transport, and public transportation by land, air, or sea.

The IATF, meanwhile, recommended that senior citizens, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, symptomatic individuals, and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in indoor areas.

"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," the EO read.

The EO also stated that the minimum public health standards shall continue to be implemented consistent with the "principles of shared accountability, evidence-based decision-making, socioeconomic equity, and rights-based approach."

The public is advised to practice good hygiene, wash hands frequently, observe physical distancing, and maintain good ventilation in indoor settings.

The Chief Executive also directed all government units to submit regular reports on their vaccination status to the Department of Health.

"Provinces, highly-urbanized cities, independent component cities, and municipalities which are currently at low-risk classification, but at Alert Level 2 status because of failure to meet vaccination targets to warrant de-escalation, are highly encouraged to undertake efforts to further expand their vaccination and booster coverage," the EO read.

The order shall take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

Earlier, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco announced that the President had decided to ease the mask mandate to "allow the Philippines to be at par with its ASEAN neighbors, which have long eased their mask-wearing policies."

Frasco stressed that the Philippine government decided to lift the remaining measure aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19 to send a message to the international community that the country is "open and ready" for tourists.

In September, Marcos signed Executive Order no. 3 allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings, particularly in open spaces and non-crowded areas with good ventilation.

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