DILG Says No to Cebu Province's Lifting of Face-Mask Rule

To face mask or not to face mask? That is the question...in Cebu.

face masks
PHOTO BY Jerome Ascano

(SPOT.ph) When the pandemic hit in early 2020, wearing face masks as part of the prescribed minimum health standards was made mandatory in the Philippines (and in many countries all over the world). And it still continues to be a requirement amid ease in restrictions, progress in mass vaccination, and waning of daily infection cases. On June 9, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia declared that wearing face masks in open spaces is no longer required in Cebu Province; then on June 10, national authorities said that they will not recognize the governor's executive order.

Also read: How We Dealt With Some of the Worst Outbreaks in History

Cebu Province is currently under Alert Level 2, which mandates that indoor venues can only be at a 50% capacity and outdoor venues at 70% capacity. Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting, lottery, and other gaming establishments are still not allowed to operate.

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Garcia's executive order, which was signed on June 8, said that the wearing of face masks is only mandated in closed and air-conditioned spaces, as well as among people with COVID-19 symptoms. Wearing face masks in crowded outdoor areas is also highly encouraged (but not required).

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, however, said that the police are ordered to continue to "confront, apprehend, and arrest" violators of minimum public health standards, which includes wearing face masks.

"The President has directed that we will continue to wear face masks except under circumstances defined by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. Current IATF protocols allow only for specific instances when masks can be taken off, such as when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities,” Año said in a statement.

In Metro Manila, which is under Alert Level 1, masks are required to be worn at all times, except during the following instances:

  • Eating and drinking;
  • Participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained;
  • Practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained.

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