Most Filipinos wear masks, do social distancing even after lockdown – SWS

Pia Ranada
Most Filipinos wear masks, do social distancing even after lockdown – SWS

Visitors of Supreme Court in Manila are required to wear face mask before entering the premises of the building as precautionary methods for COVID-19 on March 9, 2020. Photo by KD Madrilejos/Rappler

Based on an SWS survey held in early July, obedience to the mask-wearing rule is highest in Metro Manila, the country's coronavirus epicenter

Though President Rodrigo Duterte insists stricter police enforcement is needed to discipline Filipinos amid the pandemic, a new survey found that a big majority of Filipinos continue to wear masks when they go out, even after lockdowns were lifted.

The Social Weather Stations (SWS), in a survey conducted from July 3 to 6, found that 76% of adult Filipinos “always” wore their masks when leaving the house in the past month.

Meanwhile, 65% said they always wash their hands several times a day while 59% said they always keep a one-meter distance from other people outside their homes.

The SWS said obedience to mask-wearing and handwashing protocols “hardly changed” since their May 4 to 10 survey, when the Metro Manila and first Cebu City lockdowns were in place. Back then, 77% of Filipinos said they abided by the mask-wearing rule while 68% said they washed their hands frequently.

However, slightly less Filipinos said they continued to observe physical distancing. From 64% in May, this went down by 5 percentage points to 59% in July.

In early July, Metro Manila managed to keep its general community quarantine status while Cebu City remained on lockdown or enhanced community quarantine.

The rest of the country, save for some provinces, transitioned into modified general community quarantine, the least restrictive quarantine mode.

Obedience high in COVID-19 hotspots

Authorities should be happy to note that obedience to the mask-wearing rule is highest in Metro Manila, the country’s coronavirus epicenter.

In the megacity, 90% of respondents said they always wear masks outside, followed by 82% in Visayas, home to Cebu City, which was put back on lockdown after a spike in infections. In both Balance of Luzon and Mindanao, 72% of respondents said they always followed the rule.

The percentage of Metro Manila respondents obedient to mask-wearing protocols rose from May to July, perhaps a reflection of growing alarm over the steady rise in cases when restrictions were eased.

Back in May, only 78% of people in Metro Manila said they always observed the rule. The July figure is 12 points higher.

Meanwhile, obedience to the rule fell slightly in Mindanao where the quarantine restrictions have mostly eased. From 79% in May, it decreased by 7 percentage points, to 72%.

Obedience to physical distancing, hand-washing falls slightly outside of Metro Manila

While obedience to the physical distancing rule remained high in Metro Manila, it fell slightly in the rest of the country from May to July.

In the Visayas, it went down to 64% from 69%, and in Mindanao, to 57% from 64%. In Balance of Luzon, it fell to 56% from 60%.

Metro Manila also remains at the top in terms of adherence to hand-washing where 73% say they always do this, compared to 68% in May.

Elsewhere in the country, obedience to the rule fell slightly.

In the Visayas, 69% say they consistently follow this rule, compared to 73% in May. In Mindanao, the number is 67% compared to 74% in May, while in Balance of Luzon, it was 59% from 63% in May.

Despite the slight decreases, a majority of respondents in all regions adhere to the 3 coronavirus health protocols.

The SWS survey results mirror findings by United Kingdom think tank YouGov which showed that 91% of Filipinos wear masks outside their homes. In the international survey, the Filipinos ranked second in obedience to the rule, among 29 countries.

The SWS described its poll as a probability-based survey conducted using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing of 1,555 adult Filipinos nationwide: 306 in the National Capital Region, 451 in Balance Luzon, 388 in the Visayas, and 410 in Mindanao.

The survey has sampling error margins of ±2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, ±5 for Balance Luzon, ±5% for the Visayas, and ±5% for Mindanao.–

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at