Northern Mindanao

Despite apprehensions, Cagayan de Oro follows Marcos on optional face mask use

Bobby Lagsa
Despite apprehensions, Cagayan de Oro follows Marcos on optional face mask use

MASKED ELDERS. Elderly residents of Barangay Tignapoloan, Cagayan de Oro, put their face masks on during a city hall-sponsored event in their village.

Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Rolando Uy says the optional use of face masks would help spur Cagayan de Oro's economy which was crippled during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Despite apprehensions expressed by local health officials, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Rolando Uy said the local government would make face mask use outdoors optional based on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order No. 3.

But city health officer Dr. Rachel Dilla said authorities would continue enforcing the rule in enclosed places where crowding takes place, especially for the elderly and people with comorbidities.

Indoors, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities “must wear masks for their protection,” said Dilla. 

Uy said on Monday, September 12, that Cagayan de Oro now considers the wearing of face masks in non-crowded open spaces and places with adequate ventilation voluntary based on Marcos’ order.

He said he agreed that the optional use of face masks would help spur Cagayan de Oro’s economy which was crippled when the government was forced to enforce strict public health rules and quarantine restrictions during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we make progress in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, it is logical to ease some of the quarantine restrictions as we transition to the new normal and restart the economy gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Uy said in a statement shortly after Malacañang announced that Marcos signed EO 3.

Uy said city hall’s focus now is to meet its vaccination targets.

City hall’s data showed that 584,578 people have been given the first two COVID-19 doses, accounting for 92.31% of the target population of 604,953 as of September 12.

Of the vaccinated, only 26.77% or 161,969 have been administered their first booster shots.

Uy said authorities would diligently enforce the rule on face mask use in places where physical distancing cannot be maintained like indoor spaces and public transportation.

Dilla said the COVID-19 virus continues to be a threat to public health.

“We are still in a pandemic, and that’s why we need to adhere to minimum public health protocols. The wearing of masks will not only protect us from COVID-19 but also other respiratory diseases,” Dilla said. – Rappler.com

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