COVID-19

Philippines makes wearing of face masks in public transport optional

Dwight de Leon

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Philippines makes wearing of face masks in public transport optional

ALERT LEVEL 1. Commuters ride the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 as the capital region eases coronavirus restrictions, in Mandaluyong City, March 1, 2022.

Lisa Marie David/Reuters

The move comes after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lifted the state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The wearing of face masks in all forms of public transport across the Philippines is no longer mandatory, more than three years since the government introduced the protocol.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Sunday, July 23, that the rule on physical distancing in public transport has also been lifted.

The move came after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed a proclamation on Friday, July 21, lifting the state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“This new development is a significant step towards normalizing public transportation and supporting economic recovery,” Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said in a statement.

“While public safety remains a top priority, the removal of protocols aims to facilitate commuters’ convenience, contribute to the revival of the transportation industry, and help stimulate economic activity,” he added.

The Philippine government first required the wearing of face masks in April 2020, weeks after most areas in the country were placed under COVID-19 lockdowns.

In September 2022, the outdoor wearing of face masks became optional; a month later, the rule on indoor wearing of face masks was also lifted.

But before the DOTR’s latest pronouncement on Sunday, commuters were still required to don a face mask when aboard public utility vehicles.

As of Saturday, July 22, there are 5,199 active coronavirus cases in the Philippines, based on the online tracker of the Department of Health.

Overall, the country has logged 4.17 million coronavirus cases, including 66,542 deaths. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.