MANILA, Philippines – Masks will no longer be required in indoor and outdoor settings in the Philippines.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed on Friday, October 28, Executive Order No. 7, lifting a mask-wearing mandate that has been in place since 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcos, through his tourism chief, had earlier announced the plan to lift indoor mask-wearing requirements, citing the need for the Philippines to be “at par” with its neighbors in the region.
Wearing masks will now be voluntary in all indoor and outdoor spaces, except in healthcare facilities, medical transport vehicles, and all types of public transport.
Even symptomatic persons are no longer required to wear masks, although they are “encouraged” to continue wearing protective equipment.
Mask wearing is also “encouraged” for elderly, those with comorbidities, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant persons, and those who were not vaccinated.
The new order repeals EO 3, which made mask wearing voluntary only in outdoor settings with proper ventilation.
EO 7 also mandates the implementation of “minimum public health standards” including “good hygiene, frequent hand-washing, observance of physical distancing, and maintenance of good ventilation especially in indoor settings.”
Local government units are also required to report to the health department their vaccination status.
Provinces, highly-urbanized cities, and component cities, and municipalities considered low-risk but have failed to meet vaccination targets are also “highly encouraged” to expand vaccination and booster coverage.
Health professions and advocates have thumbed down the government’s decision to further ease pandemic safeguards.
EO 7 comes as government continues to struggle in ramping up its booster targets and days before millions of Filipinos are expected to travel around the country over the Undas long weekend. – Rappler.com