President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr plans to make the wearing of face masks against COVID-19 “optional” in indoor areas, according to the Department of Tourism.
According to Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco in the Palace press briefing Tuesday, Bongbong is about to issue an executive order to formalize the aforementioned.
“It was agreed [in a Cabinet meeting today] that the president would be issuing an order to make indoor mask wearing also voluntary all over the Philippines with few exceptions,” said Frasco.
“But generally, the direction of the Marcos administration is to lift the remainder of travel restrictions into the Philippines, and that includes easing of mask mandates to allow our country to be at par with our Asean neighbors who have long liberalized their mask mandates.”
However, it is said that it will still be mandatory to wear a mask inside public transportation and medical facilities.
All those who are sick, senior citizens, and those who have not been vaccinated will still be encouraged to wear face masks.
The DOT secretary made such a statement after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that the more infectious Omicron XBB subvariant and XBC variant have entered the Philippines, which also has local transmission.
President Marcos to make wearing of face mask indoors voluntary – DOT
The wearing of face masks in outdoor areas is currently voluntary as long as it is not crowded and the ventilation is good. This is after the strict lockdowns since 2020.
Although the DOH has described everything that could happen regarding masking mandates in their meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the task force is still a collegial body that needs to consider everyone’s concerns.
“In view of this, the DOH reminds the public that the more layers of protection we employ, the more protected we are against COVID-19,” the DOH said earlier.
“These include vaccination, masking, distancing, ventilation, and sanitation, as well as taking care of one’s health.”
Despite this, the department believes that everyone who decides for themselves based on their personal context will be given a relaxation of restrictions.
They still reminded everyone that Undas and Christmas are approaching, times when more COVID-19 infections are expected.