Oliver Bugarin 5 0 0 5 min to read

EO is required to enable the use of optional face masks outside.

Until President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signs an executive order (EO) permitting the wearing face masks outside on an optional basis and other recommendations made by the country’s pandemic task group, Filipinos must continue to wear their masks.

Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the press secretary, reminded the public on Thursday that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has simply “advised” the use of face masks outside.

“The IATF’recommended’ that face masks be worn on a voluntary basis outside in open areas with excellent ventilation. Although it’s still strongly advised for the weak to use masks, such as the elderly and immunocompromised, she texted reporters.

Cruz-Angeles previously stated that if there is an improvement in the country’s Covid-19 booster vaccination coverage, the planned elimination of the necessary mask requirement will be pilot tested toward the last quarter of 2022.

“This is not yet policy, but it is the advice of the IATF,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Hindi pa po ito polisiya ngunit ito na po ang nirirekomenda ng ating IATF.”

“By the end of the year, we can pilot test the lifting of the necessary mask requirement,” she continued, “but we need to enhance our booster shot statistics first.”

Although the suggested voluntary use of face masks outdoors is not yet a policy, Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire stated that the DOH is “first notifying the public about the advice” because it is the IATF’s chair.

The IATF has decided to suggest to the President that there be, or the President will issue an executive order respecting this policy, Vergeire added.

Vergeire, on the other hand, expressed optimism that the President would accept the IATF plan.

According to the feedback, “Talagang pabor naman ang President (The President seems to be in favor of it),” she stated, “therefore the executive order can be issued right away.”

Benhur Abalos Jr., Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), was the one who originally brought up the idea of making face masks optional after Cebu City’s administration made it so.

Citing statistics from various Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) nations, he claimed that as long as minimum public health standards are strictly upheld, there was little difference in the number of Covid-19 cases between regions where wearing face masks was required and regions where they were partially or entirely lifted.

Meanwhile, Cruz-Angeles asked all government bodies to support the National Booster Week, which runs from September 26 to 29, by implementing sector-specific policies and incentives to promote booster vaccinations.

“As of right now, the implementation of the booster policy has Mayroon as its target. She continued, it is up to the agencies to suggest, encourage, or provide incentives to those who will get their booster shots. “Bahala ang mga ahensiya na magrekomenda o for encouragement or incentives sa mga magpapa-booster (Different agencies have targets for the implementation of the booster policy.)

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