Voluntary Wearing of Face mask in the Workplace
Malacañang issued Executive Order (EO) No. 07 allowing voluntary wearing of face masks in indoor and outdoor settings, reiterating the continued implementation of minimum public health standards during the state of public health emergency relative to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is pursuant to Section 15, Article II of the 1987 Constitution providing that the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.
The decision arises from a result of continued immunization, countries around the world have been instituting measures such as reopening of international borders, and relaxation of health and safety protocols and requirements, resulting in immediate positive impacts to their economies.
According to the EO, countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as various countries across the world, have begun liberalizing face mask mandates with no significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases recorded.
Earlier, Executive Order (EO) No. 3 (s. 2022) allowed the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings or in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, provided that not-fully vaccinated individuals, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals were highly encouraged to wear face masks, and that physical distancing shall be observed at all times.
Malacañang data, as of 26 October 2022, show that 73.5 million individuals in the Philippines are fully-vaccinated, while 20.5 million individuals have booster doses.
Eighty-eight of the country’s 121 provinces, highly urbanized cities and independent cities, and 696 of the country’s component cities and municipalities are under Alert Level 1.
Through its Resolution No. 3 (s. 2022), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended the further liberalization of the face mask mandate to make the wearing of masks in indoor settings optional or voluntary, except in healthcare facilities, medical transport, and public transportation by land, air or sea.
In the same Resolution, the IATF recommended that senior citizens, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, and unvaccinated individuals be highly encouraged to wear face masks in indoor settings.
A policy of voluntary wearing of face masks in both indoor and outdoor settings is a positive step towards normalization, and a welcome development that would encourage activities and boost efforts toward the full reopening of the
The wearing of face masks in indoor and outdoor settings is now voluntary except in the following settings:
- Healthcare facilities, including, but not limited to, clinics, hospitals,
laboratories, nursing homes and dialysis clinics;
- Medical transport vehicles, such as ambulance and paramedic rescue
- Public transportation by land, air or sea.
Mask wearing is still encouraged for the:
- Individuals with comorbidities;
- Immunocompromised individuals;
- Pregnant women;
- Unvaccinated individuals; and
- Symptomatic individuals.
The minimum public health standards (MPHS) to effectively prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the country shall continue to be implemented consistent with the principles of shared accountability, evidence-based decision-making, socioeconomic equity and rights-based approach.
The DOH was directed to continuously update the MPHS guidelines in accordance with this Order. The general public, in compliance with the MPHS, is hereby enjoined to exercise diligence in carrying out health protocols, such as the practice of good hygiene, frequent hand-washing, observance of physical distancing, and maintenance of good ventilation especially in indoor settings.
All local government units (LGUS) are directed to submit regular reports on their vaccination status to the Department of Health. Provinces, highly-urbanized cities, independent component cities and municipalities which are currently at low risk classification, but at Alert Level 2 status because of failure to meet vaccination targets to warrant de-escalation, are highly encouraged to undertake efforts to further expand their vaccination and booster coverage.
Section 4. Assistance and Cooperation of Agencies and LGUs. All departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the government, including state universities and colleges, government-owned or -controlled corporations, and government financial institutions, and LGUS are directed to render full assistance to and cooperation with the IATF for the effective and orderly implementation of EO 7.
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