BREAKING NEWS: Face Mask Are Now Optional Outdoors

My Doctor Finder
September 12, 2022

After 2 years of mandatory wearing of masks, the Malacañang Palace announced that it will now be voluntary in open, outdoor areas and non-crowded open spaces with good ventilation.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles announced that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the Executive Order No. 3, allowing face mask wearing outdoors voluntary while still urging the public to practice the minimum health standards and safety protocols.

However, as stated in EO No. 3, senior citizens, immunocompromised individuals, and people not fully vaccinated are “strongly encouraged” to still wear face masks outdoors.

Face masks are still required inside private or public establishments, public transportation (land, sea, and air), and where physical distancing is not possible.

Last September 7, Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended liberalizing facemask use for low-risk individuals in low-risk areas. This led to the Executive Order being released.

Following this, medical experts expressed caution over the decision to relax the face mask rule. They argued that removing this rule and easing medical protocols would lead unvaccinated people to believe that they don’t need a vaccine, thus hurting the vaccination drive. 

“It basically also gives the impression to a lot of Filipinos that there is really no need to vaccinate, that you should not be afraid of COVID-19,” said Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) President Maricar Limpin.

She also added that the ease of restrictions and health protocols can weaken the booster campaign and the entire vaccination program.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante warned it is not yet time to loosen up restrictions. “We need to think of other aspects of how we can improve, we should focus on boosting the population rather than tinkering with our policies which for me have been very important,” he added.

Solante explained that the country has low COVID-19 cases because of mandating the wearing of face masks for 2 years and a few months. 

“We focused on protecting the population both indoor and outdoor and for me, it will be the last policy that should be relaxed,” he also added.

DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire defended the suggestion and explained that the resolution only applies to places where close quarter contact is unlikely and with sufficient ventilation.

She also said in a statement, “The position of the DOH is for us to continue on masking, but there were several [pieces of data] that were also presented that led to this decision.”

Another factor that made this suggestion favorable is the correlation between the lifting of face mask policy and the increase in tourism numbers, according to the Department Of Tourism. The Press Secretary also stated the need for a backup plan to increase the booster shot rate, and to balance public health and the economy. 




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