Some countries have removed wearing face masks as a requirement, and the Philippines, specifically Cebu province, has tried to make it optional – at least in open spaces. But the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) “does not recognize” Cebu’s executive rule.
According to Governor Gwen Garcia’s Executive Order No. 16, face masks shall be required in the province but only in closed and air-conditioned spaces. She added, ‘On the other hand, the use of face masks shall be optional in well-ventilated and open spaces.’
‘However, persons are highly encouraged to continue to wear their masks, especially in crowded outdoor areas,’ Garcia continued. But individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms must wear face masks at all times when leaving their homes.
The governor has been known for pushing for more flexible COVID-19 measures. Cebu province is currently under Alert Level 2, which is the second-lowest quarantine status.
On June 10, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año refused to acknowledge Garcia’s EO No. 16. He added that the Philippine National Police will “confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary” the violators of IATF Guidelines and MPHS in Cebu province.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) noted that wearing face masks remains mandatory in the rest of the country as per the protocols of the national pandemic task force.
DOH said that masks can only be taken off during specific instances, including eating or attending well-ventilated sports and activities. The department added, ‘The COVID virus is still present and the pandemic is not yet over. People can still catch the virus.’