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DOT pushes for lifting the mask requirement in Asean nations as justification.

The decision to relax the nation’s mask mandate was welcomed on Friday by the Department of Tourism (DOT), which claimed that it would boost the Philippine tourism industry “a greater opportunity of recovering its active and prosperous operations.”

Relaxing mask regulations “did not appear to generate an escalation in Covid-19 instances,” according to a comparison investigation cited by the DOT, in Asean neighbors Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Christina Frasco, the tourism secretary, says, “the Philippines is currently in a position wherein its existing entry and stay policies for tourists convey only a partial reopening of the country to international travel.”

“Because these Asean member states—the Philippines’ direct tourism rivals—have all partially or completely abolished their mask regulations, the Philippines is instantly at a significant competitive disadvantage as a travel destination, she continued.

Apart from Singapore, Frasco continued, other Southeast Asian nations also experienced an uptick in visitors following the relaxation of mask laws.

Only the lifting of the mask mandates has quadrupled more than the number of tourists visiting these nations, she added, suggesting a connection between the growth in Covid-19 cases and the lifting of the mask mandates.

Joey Concepcion, the founder of Go Negosyo and the group leader for the Jobs initiative on the Private Sector Advisory Council, concurs.

“We see that the optional usage of face mask and what Cebu did today is, in my opinion, right,” Concepcion said during the Laging Handa public briefing on Friday.

The optional face mask policy will be in effect in Cebu City from September 1 to December 31.

According to Concepcion, Filipinos are now aware of how to defend themselves against Covid-19.

“I believe now is the appropriate time to acknowledge that Covid-19 will likely be around for a while. Therefore, we cannot constantly use face masks outside, he remarked.

Frasco said that reducing the health measure is “absolutely helpful” to be on pace with the other nations in Asia, Europe, and North America and that the country “desperately needs” to strengthen its openness and appeal as a destination in order to encourage economic recovery.

In addition to Southeast Asian nations, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the United States, the rest of the European Union (EU), and the United Kingdom, according to Frasco, have already loosened their mask regulations.

Concepcion wants a mask to use to be required indoors, including in hotels, shopping malls, and public transit.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended that masks be made optional in open locations or unpopulated outdoor areas with excellent ventilation to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, an infectious disease specialist, concurs with Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire that wearing a face mask offers 70–80% protection against Covid-19 and other infections. Vergeire is the officer-in-charge for the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH will continue to have the “primary say” about the destiny of the mandatory face mask policy, according to press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, and must agree with the DOT before the rule is altered.

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