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Face masks are now optional in outdoor settings in Cebu Province, but DILG begs to differ

By Camille Santiago Published Jun 09, 2022 8:35 pm Updated Jun 10, 2022 10:49 am

Wearing of face masks is now optional in well-ventilated and open spaces in Cebu Province according to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, but the Department of the Interior and Local Government said it is not recognizing such an order.

Garcia issued an executive order, shared by The Freeman, on Wednesday, June 8 stating that masks are now "optional" in outdoor settings, but "highly encouraged" in crowded places.

She noted that in other countries like Singapore, the wearing of face mask and "other personal protective equipment" are now "optional" in outdoor settings.

"As a necessary step towards the new normal, there is a need to rationalize the requirement on wearing of masks," she said in her order.

The governor did note, however, that the public is still "required" to continue wearing their masks when indoors or air-conditioned spaces.

The Philippine National Police will continue to confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary, all violators of IATF Guidelines.

She also said that those who are "unwell with symptoms of the COVID-19" are required to wear their masks when leaving their homes.

In April, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said that masks will continue to be kept on until the end of his term this year despite the decline in COVID-19 infections.

“Ako I’ll just state my case…there is no way na masks will not be required. It will be a part of the protocol for a long time until my last day in office. Yan ang order ko at yan ang sundin ninyo,” Dutete said.

"We just have to be very careful and I’d like you to maintain 'yung mga protocols which have been proven to help us a lot in combating the virus," he added.

Apprehend and arrest

But the DILG, meanwhile, said it "does not recognize" Garcia's executive order.

"The Philippine National Police will continue to confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary, all violators of IATF Guidelines and (the minimum public health standards) in the Province of Cebu," DILG Sec. Eduardo Año said in a June 10 statement.

Año noted that the current protocols of the Inter-Agency Task Force allow only "for specific instances" in taking off masks, like when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities.

"The Department wishes to remind the public and all Local Government Units that the COVID-19 virus is still present and the pandemic is not yet over," he said, adding that Filipinos must remain "vigilant" and get vaccinated against the disease or take booster shots as soon as possible.

In April, Duterte said the mask mandate will remain until the end of his term this year despite the decline in COVID-19 infections.

“Ako I’ll just state my case…there is no way na masks will not be required. It will be a part of the protocol for a long time until my last day in office. Yan ang order ko at yan ang sundin ninyo,” Duterte said.

"We just have to be very careful and I’d like you to maintain 'yung mga protocols which have been proven to help us a lot in combating the virus," he added.