COVID-19

Philippines to ease face mask policy

Bonz Magsambol
Philippines to ease face mask policy

Long queue wait outside a medical store in Bambang, Sta. Cruz, Manila as they wait for available stock of face masks on January 31, 2020. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

‘There is verbal approval from the President. But it will need an executive order to make it a formal policy,’ says Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to ease its face mask policy as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “verbally” approved coronavirus task force’s recommendation to make wearing masks optional when outdoors.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles made the announcement in a press briefing on Wednesday, September 7. She said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) recommended to make wearing of face masks optional.

“We stress that this is outdoors. Wearing of face masks will be optional in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, provided that senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are encouraged to wear masks,” Angeles said.

The press secretary said the new rules will have pilot implementation in the last quarter of 2022, provided that the COVID-19 booster coverage improves.

Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that an executive order is needed for the new rules to take effect.

“There is verbal approval from the President. But it will need an executive order to make it a formal policy,” said Department of Health Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire.

This development comes after Cebu City’s order making masking optional outdoors.

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A number of countries, including those in Europe and the United States, have already dropped their mandatory wearing of face masks in most public places, although they are still recommended in some indoor places. But the caveat is that a large portion of the population in most of these countries have been vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

In the Philippines, although over 72 million individuals have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, only 18.2 million have received booster shots. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.