COVID-19

When do you need to wear a mask outdoors?

Bonz Magsambol
When do you need to wear a mask outdoors?

The wearing face masks in “open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation” is now voluntary, Malacañang announced on September 12, 2022. Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order No.3 allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings while reiterating the public’s continued adherence to minimum health standards. Rappler

'Ang ating message na gusto pong iparating sa inyo is that the mask will always be our default... Ibig sabihin, ang mask, kapag alam natin na mataas ang risk, isusuot natin,' says Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire

MANILA, Philippines – Wearing of face masks when outdoors is now optional in the Philippines. But the country’s top medical experts still urged the public to mask up since the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is still here.

Ang ating message na gusto pong iparating sa inyo is that the mask will always be our default… Ibig sabihin, ang mask, kapag alam natin na mataas ang risk, isusuot natin,” Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

(The message that we want to send is that the mask will always be our default. This means, the mask, when we know the risk is high, we should wear it.)

Vergeire said the DOH’s position was to keep the masking policy. However, she said that the DOH was presented with different evidence on striking a balance between public health and economy. The COVID-19 task force (IATF) recommended to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to make wearing of face masks optional.

The IATF is composed of economic managers and health experts.

So when should an individual wear a face mask outdoors? Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics devised a matrix to help people decide when they should wear one. The matrix was based on Swiss Cheese framework, a model used in risk analysis and risk management, including healthcare, aviation safety, emergency service organizations, and the likes.

Epimetrics is a public health research institution focused on the achievement of health equity through rigorous and creative conception, execution, translation, and communication of health systems and policy research. It also helps the government make sense of the pandemic.

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 this was 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.

When do you need to wear a mask outdoors?

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.