Local government units are still divided on the government’s new policy of easing face mask requirements — something the Department of Health observed during its early implementation.
It was only Monday when Malacañang announced that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had signed Executive Order 3, which allows the voluntary wearing of face masks against COVID-19 in public places that are not crowded and have good ventilation.
“The first day of implementation… actually in-announce pa lang natin ito, marami nang local governments na nagtatanong sa atin kung pwede na nilang ipatupad,” said DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, Tuesday.
“‘Yun namang ibang local governments, they wanted also that they would still stick to the existing restrictions na hindi pa rin sila papayag na walang masks ang mga tao.”
“Mixed ang reaction ng ating mga local governments. But yesterday during the issuance of the E.O., this is personal observation… nakita natin na marami pa rin po ang naka-mask sa labas ng kalye, doon po sa mga pinupuntahan nating public spaces.”
Despite this, they said they are seeing many residents who do not wear face masks, especially those close to the house or in open areas.
The department hopes that the proper implementation of where masks can and cannot be removed will continue.
Some LGUs oppose voluntary wearing of face mask
“So hopefully tuloy-tuloy na maayos nating maipapatupad kung saan magtatanggal… at ano po ba ang dapat nating maalala,” the DOH official added.
“Ngayon po ang ating main message na: Kailan tayo pwedeng magtanggal ng mask?”
The government first clarified that the following are still “highly encouraged” to wear face masks despite the new policy:
- senior citizens (60 years old and above)
- immunocompromised individuals
- not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19
It is said that removing it will still not be allowed in indoor establishments such as public transportation and outdoor settings where physical distancing is impossible.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles first said that Marcos Jr. relaxed the mask mandates, especially since the Philippines is only “6% away” from reaching the wall of immunity.