October 7, 2022
STILL MANDATORY — Baguio residents and tourists alike will still be required to wear face mask outdoors pending the issuance of an executive order by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and advice from the World Health Organization. Baguio City is considered a model in observing the minimum public health protocols. — Harley Palangchao

The mandatory wearing of face mask in public places in Baguio remains a policy pending the issuance by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. of an executive order and an advice from the World Health Organization lifting the declaration of global health emergency due to the Covid-19.
Assistant City Health Services Officer Celia Flor Brillantes told the Courier on Sept. 9 the city has yet to receive official guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which just last week recommended to the President the optional use of face mask in public places.
Brillantes added the WHO has yet to pronounce that the Covid-19 pandemic is over and until such time its declaration of global health emergency is lifted, the city will continue to implement the face mask ordinance and encourage observance of the minimum public health standards.
“We are not yet fully putting down our face masks, especially in schools, and crowded public places. Not just as yet, since though it’s going down, we are still having Covid-19 cases and we need to boost the number of our population that have vaccine booster shots already. We cannot really be complacent,” Brillantes said.
She said the plan to make the use of face mask optional in public places is undergoing a lot of studies from the international and national levels, but there is a need to keep the masks on until there are sufficient evidence and guidelines that say not wearing of face mask is already safe.
Brillantes said the city government will follow the guidelines once it is issued, but for now, status quo on the use of face mask is being maintained.
“We look forward to positive protocols. As we have experienced, strict health protocols have been eased since the pandemic started and we had reasons to lift lockdowns and further loosen up. And so we encourage our eligible population especially the vulnerable to get their booster shots, not just the primary doses, while vaccines are still available,” Brillantes said.
She added while the city has more than enough of population inoculated with the primary doses, they highly encourage getting additional shots to boost the immune system against the Covid-19.
Dr. Donabel Panes, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, said in the event use of face mask becomes optional, the CESU will continue keeping close watch of the city’s healthcare utilization rate and will make recommendations if and when there is a need to return to using face mask in public places.
“We will continue with our task of doing surveillance of cases particularly in schools and workplaces, monitor antigen test self-reporting and vaccination rates to make sure our hospitals will not be overwhelmed,” Panes said.
The President is currently studying the recommendation of the IATF on the voluntary use of face mask outdoors.
Press Sec. Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Sept. 8 said Filipinos are still required to wear face masks, unless its optional use becomes a policy.
The recommendation covers low-risk individuals and will apply to low-risk settings and includes the pilot study on wearing of face masks indoors in select areas. The proposal will be done in phases to ensure the population’s protection against the Covid-19. – Hanna C. Lacsamana