Wearing of Face Masks Outdoors Now Optional—But There’s a Catch

The Malacañang has announced on Monday, September 12, that wearing face masks is now voluntary in the Philippines—provided that it meets the following conditions: the outdoor space must be uncrowded and well-ventilated.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles confirmed in a press briefing the issuance of Executive Order No. 3 while reiterating that minimum public health standards must continue being implemented all throughout the country.

She also advised those immunocompromised, senior citizens, and individuals who have yet to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to still wear face masks whether indoors or outdoors.

The order takes effect immediately, she added.

The Philippines is one of the only countries in Southeast Asia that was still making it mandatory for its citizens to wear face masks. In a past media briefing on September 7, Cruz-Angeles said that “the lifting of the mandatory mask mandate will be piloted towards the last quarter of 2022, provided there is an improvement in the COVID booster vaccination coverage.”

Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire noted in the same briefing that the relaxation should be done “in phases” in order to ensure that the public is protected from COVID-19.

They also expressed hope that these relaxed measures will boost tourism in the country.

(ALSO READ: Cebu Province Lifts Outdoor Face Mask Requirement)

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