Pres. Marcos Jr gives “verbal approval” to IATF resolution on optional wearing of face masks outdoors

But the elderly and the immuno-compromised encouraged to still wear face masks outdoors

People wearing face masks cross a street in the Divisoria district of Manila on November 30, 2021. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)


(Eagle News) – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., has given his “verbal approval” to make the wearing of face masks outdoors optional or voluntary in non-crowded well-ventilated outdoor areas.

This was upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force which studied the current situation, and saw that the mandatory or compulsory wearing of face masks outdoors was no longer applicable at this stage.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz- Angeles said that the IATF recommended the “liberalization” of the mask-wearing mandate in open spaces across the country.

“Ulitin po natin: Outdoors po ito. ito ay nagiging optional in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, provided that senior citizens and those immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their masks, to continue wearing masks,” Angeles said.

She, however, pointed out that senior citizens and those who are immunocompromised are “encouraged” to still wear face masks outdoors.

“Ang optional po ay in non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation,” she said.

This recommendation was contained in IATF Resolution number 1 Series of 2022 which was signed on September 5, 2022.

The IATF recommended that there would be this optional policy for mask-wearing for those low-risk individuals and in low-risk settings, said Department of Health officer-in-charge (OIC) Maria Rosario Vergeire.

-Liberalization of face mask wearing only for “low-risk individuals”-

She said the liberalization of the wearing of face masks outdoors is only for “low-risk individuals” and in “low risk settings” which are now crowded and have good ventilation.

Vergeire said that President Marcos Jr., had already given his “verbal approval” to the recommendation when Secretary Benhur Abalos of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) called him up.

“So actually the very reason why we are having this presscon and initially informing the public of this was because there was this verbal approval from the President when they talked with Secretary Benhur from DILG,” the DOH official said.

She stressed that it will only become a policy if the resolution is placed in a legal instrument.

“What we are doing right now is initially informing the public so that everybody is informed about the IATF resolution. And again, the President has given his verbal approval when the Secretary of DILG called him,” Vergeire said.

-Strengthening booster campaign as a prelude to possible lifting of face mask wearing indoors-

The DOH OIC added that the IATF resolution also included the strengthening of the COVID-19 booster campaign nationwide.  If there is a wider booster coverage, there is a likelihood that the wearing of face masks indoors would be considered for lifting too, she said.

“So ang gagawin po natin mayroon tayong phase approach, sabi natin noon dito sa PinasLakas campaign for the first 100 days, we targeted 50% at least of the eligible population for the first booster shot and nakita natin na napakabagal talaga ng uptake nitong first booster shot,” Vergeire explained.

A resident receives a BioNtech Pfizer Covid-19 jab as a booster, at a vaccination center in Quezon city on January 27, 2022, amidst rising covid-19 infections in the capital driven by Omicron variant. (Photo by Maria Tan / AFP)

There would also be a pilot study on the possible lifting of face mask mandate indoors, she said.

“So, we said doon po sa IATF, nag-present kami noong Lunes, sinabi natin at least 30% pagdating ng first 100 days and then we do the progressive improvement or increase in the targets as the number of days or months go by. Pero dito sa pilot ng indoor, kasama po iyan sa pinag-aaralan natin ng ating mga eksperto. What would be the safe level or threshold or target na dapat marating natin para we can then lift the restrictions for masks sa indoors,” Vergeire noted.



(Eagle News Service)

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