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Continue to wear face masks, the Palace reminds the public.

MANILA, Philippines — The right use of face masks is required in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacanang said on Tuesday.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar issued a press statement reminding the public that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has not issued any directive lifting the mandatory usage of face masks.

“The mandate from the Chief Executive is clear: keep wearing face masks,” Andanar stated.

Andanar made the statement after Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia signed Executive Order (EO) 16 on June 8, making the use of face masks in well-ventilated areas and open spaces optional.

Face masks are only required to be used in close, air-conditioned areas under EO 16. Face masks are still recommended in crowded outdoor places.

Despite the fact that Cebu province is still on Alert Level 2, the local legislation was signed.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management and Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) face mask policy, which was authorized by Duterte, is more binding than Garcia’s local mandate, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Guevarra’s stance was supported by Andanar, who stated that the IATF-EID regulations on the required wearing of face masks will take precedence over local government ordinances.

“We restate and support the Justice Secretary’s legal judgment that the Inter-Agency Task Force resolution on the required wearing of face masks shall prevail above executive orders issued by local government entities, including the one issued by the Cebu Provincial Government,” he added.

Andanar noted that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued a standing order to guarantee that the existing policy, which requires the use of face masks in both open and closed venues, is fully implemented.

“The Department of the Interior and Local Government has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to carry out the current IATF resolution on the wearing of face masks,” he said.

The PNP will continue to “confront, detain, and arrest, if necessary,” all violators of IATF rules and minimum public health standards in Cebu province, according to DILG Secretary Eduardo Ao.

Until his term ends on June 30, Duterte repeated his opposition to the requirement of wearing face masks.

The public is nevertheless required to wear a well-fitting face mask at all times, “whether outside or in inside private businesses,” according to the existing IATF-EID requirements.

Face masks can only be removed when people are eating or drinking, playing team or individual sports in venues with enough ventilation, or participating in outdoor sports or fitness activities with sufficient physical distance.

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