October 26, 2022
MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will issue an executive order making the wearing of face masks indoors voluntary, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco revealed Tuesday.
Although face mask use will remain required in public transportation, medical transportation, and medical facilities, she added.
This, Frasco said, was discussed during the Cabinet meeting presided over by the President on Tuesday morning.
“As a result of the Cabinet meeting this morning, it was agreed that the President would be issuing an executive order for the IATF’s [Inter-Agency Task Force] recommendation to make indoor mask wearing also voluntary all over the Philippines with the few exceptions,” she said in a Palace briefing.
Wearing face masks will still be highly encouraged for unvaccinated individuals, persons with comorbidities, and senior citizens, the government official likewise noted.
“Generally the direction of the Marcos admin is to lift the remainder of travel restrictions of the Philippines which includes easing mask mandates to allow our country to be at par with Asean neighbors who long liberalized their mask mandates,” Frasco added.
The anticipated move to lift the mandatory wearing of masks even while indoors came despite the detection and recorded local transmission of the “highly immune-evasive” XBB Omicron subvariant and XBC variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the serious respiratory illness COVID-19.
But the DOT chief assured that the impending lifting of the mandatory wearing of masks indoors was “extensively discussed” during the meeting of IATF with other Cabinet members last week.
Frasco pointed out that the XBB Omicron subvariant and the XBC variant are “not the very first variants” of the pandemic and that the Department of Health (DOH) has been “very aggressive in vaccination campaigns.”
“We simply cannot go on in pandemic perspective because we have to give our country the opportunity to thrive while maintaining basic protocols and safeguarding and protecting livelihoods,” she said.