Palace approves optional wearing of face masks

With over 72 million Filipinos already fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to make wearing of facemask outdoors optional.

Last Monday, Marcos signed Executive Order (EO) No. 3, which eased the facemask mandate in “open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.” 

However, Press secretary Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said the new issuance still “highly encourages” those who are not fully vaccinated, senior citizens, and immunocompromised to continue to continue wearing facemasks and practice physical distancing when they are outdoors.  

The facemask mandate will also be enforced indoors, private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Marcos instructed the Department of Health (DOH) the minimum public health standards to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to make it consistent with the provisions of EO 3. 

Angeles said the EO 3 could still undergo amendment depending on their feedback on its implementation from concerned government agencies and local government units (LGU) and its impact on the number of active Covid-19 cases nationwide. 

The Palace official said one of the factors, which prompted Marcos to ease the facemask protocol, was the large number of vaccinated individuals nationwide.  

“We’re happy to announce that we are 6 percent away from the wall of immunity. That’s why we are confident with the new face masks [policy],” Angeles said.  

The Department of Health (DOH) is pushing for the so-called “wall of immunity,” wherein over 70 percent of the country’s over 100 million population are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

EO No. 3 took effect last Monday after it was published in the Official Gazette. 

Last week, IATF recommended to “liberalize” the mask wearing mandate upon the requests by several LGUs as well as to help attract more foreign tourists in the country. 

Image credits: Bernard Testa

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