PBBM mulls over optional mask-wearing, but stresses need for anti-Covid boosters

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. is considering the idea of making wearing of face masks optional. 

Marcos floated the idea during this virtual speech before newly-elected governors and city mayors in Malacañang on Friday. 

He was unable to physically attend the event after testing positive for Covid-19 in an antigen test and having a slight fever. 

During the event, Marcos urged the participating local government officials to resume their efforts to rollout Covid-19 booster shots. 

“If we become successful with the booster rollout, we could probably lower alert level and make mask wearing optional,” said Marcos, who appeared to be in good spirits despite being infected. 

“So please let us do what we did the last time. The local governments did a very, very good job as a vaccine rollout last year,” he added. 

Under existing Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) protocols, a person may only remove his or her facemask while eating or during certain well-ventilated activities.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said over 40 million people have yet to avail themselves of their booster shot despite being qualified for it. 

Health officials stressed the need for the booster shots since the effect of the primary Covid-19 shots wane in time.

Marcos said the booster shots will be even more crucial in the coming months since the Department of Education (DepEd) is now pushing for the phased return of face-to-face classes. 

He said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte wants students to return to face-to-face classroom setting five days a week by November. 

“There is really a concern that there is a need for a booster shot especially for students, who will be going back to school,” Marcos said. 

Aside from normalizing the classes, he said a successful rollout of the booster shots will also “signal” to the rest of the world that the country is now “opening up for business.” 

“The booster [shots] will be the one that will be the answer for us so we could continue with the opening of our society, opening of our economy, and opening of our businesses,” Marcos said.

Image credits: Roy Domingo

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