Gov. cites Singapore model for optional policy even in enclosed spaces
After easing the face mask mandate in open and well-ventilated areas, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia is now considering relaxing the rule further to make it optional even indoors.
Garcia made the statement after the Department of Health on Friday said it would be disastrous if other local government units followed Cebu City’s lead and made mask-wearing voluntary outdoors while the COVID-19 pandemic rages.
“I do plan to take consideration even indoors. We are now closely studying this. We are consulting other sectors including the local Department of Health, Department of Tourism, DTI [Department of Trade and Industry], all other sectors because the wheels of government are not centered on the DOH alone,” she said.
The Singapore Ministry of Health released its new guidelines on Aug. 29 which makes wearing of face masks required only in the following areas: health-care facilities including medical transport, residential care homes, public transport, and outbound flights where countries of destination would require a mask.
“The economy has been devastated for too long because of their restrictive policies that have been crafted by those who haven’t seen their actual situation right here on the ground,” Garcia said.
She said her office is still drafting the executive order.
“Singapore has stated even indoors whether air-conditioned or not. They are only requiring the use of face masks in public transportation and inside hospital facilities,” she added.
In defiance of a national mask mandate, Cebu…Cebu City made mask wearing voluntary in open spaces starting Sept. 1, despite an appeal from the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
DOH officer-in-charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire emphasized the importance of taking a “one-nation approach” in the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
“Just imagine if one or two or three LGUs are implementing different protocols, what will happen to us when the virus crosses borders?” she said.
“That’s one of our worries… That would be really disastrous for all of us,” Vergeire added.
Vergeire also said COVID-19 cases must stabilize before the government can lift the mandatory face mask policy.
She added that COVID-19 was not yet at an endemic stage in the Philippines.
“When we say endemic stage, this means that the cases are stable and the immunity of the population is high,” she said.