April 14, 2024
SAFER WITH FACE MASK — In spite of the Presidential order making the wearing of face mask optional in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor settings, many Baguio residents would prefer wearing face mask as an added protection not only from the Covid-19 virus, but also from other infectious diseases. — Harley Palangchao

Baguio officials led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong have given the green light to make the use of face masks voluntary in outdoor settings in the city in keeping with the order of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
The mayor issued Executive Order 107-22 dated Sept. 12 allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in the city in outdoor low-risk settings in line with the President’s Executive Order 03-2022 “Allowing Voluntary Wearing of Facemasks in Outdoor Settings and Reiterating the Continued Implementation of the Minimum Public Health Standards during the State of Public Health Emergency relative to the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
The city council on Sept. 12 also approved Resolution 408, s. 2022 supporting the President’s order and requesting the mayor to issue an executive order for the implementation of the policy pending the amendment of the Face Mask Ordinance of 2020, as amended by Ordinance 049-2021 or The Baguio City Face Mask and Face Shield Ordinance of 2021.
“I welcome these new developments and in fact had prepared instructions ahead of the Inter-Agency Task Force recommendations to the President. It is high time that we progress with the revival of those activities and projects that were stalled during the worst days of the pandemic-but we shall do so with caution,” Magalong said.
“The public, especially our immune-compromised constituents, are strongly urged to continue wearing their face masks even in outdoor areas. Covid-19 testing sites are still available, our triage unit at the Baguio Convention Center shall remain operational, and we are actively working with the Department of Health to make vaccination sites available and accessible in various areas of the city,” the mayor added.
As per the order, the wearing of face masks will be voluntary only in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with adequate ventilation in the city.
“However, senior citizens, immune-compromised individuals, and unvaccinated or partially vaccinated persons are strongly urged to continue wearing face masks,” the order stated.
“As these remain close-contact settings, mandatory wearing of face masks shall still be implemented in indoor public and private establishments, crowded outdoor settings, and in public transportation. The recommendations of the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), and the Department of Health, relative to the removal of face masks while eating, drinking, engaging in strenuous activity, or while conducting particular work or industry, are likewise reiterated.”
“Other practices pursuant to minimum health public health standards such as frequent hand washing, cough etiquette, avoidance of unnecessary close contact, and implementation of adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces shall continue to be implemented.”
Last month, the IATF-EID submitted its recommendations relative to health and safety standards amidst Covid-19 to allow the voluntary use of face masks in outdoor and low-risk settings.
Anticipating the President’s approval of the IATF recommendations, the mayor on Sept. 8 requested the city council to enact an amendment to the ordinance to conform to the recommendations citing the steady downtrend of cases, the relatively high vaccination rate for both primary and booster doses and the community’s high compliance to the minimum public health standards.
The President’s executive order allows the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.
The order, however, mandates the use of face masks in indoor private or public establishments, in public transportation, and in outdoor areas where physical distancing may not be maintained.
The order also calls on local government units to render full assistance and cooperation with the IATF-EID for its effective implementation. – Aileen P. Refuerzo