Mask-wearing would also be highly encouraged for unvaccinated individuals, the persons with comorbidities as well as senior citizens.
As President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is about to release an executive order abolishing the mask mandate, wearing masks indoors will no longer be required, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco revealed on Tuesday.
As a result of the Cabinet meeting this morning, it was decided that the President will issue an executive order implementing the suggestion of the Inter-Agency Task Force to make indoor mask use optional throughout the Philippines, according to Frasco.
However, masks will still be required for those traveling on public transit, medical transportation, and within medical facilities like hospitals.
When asked when the President can sign the executive order, Frasco responded, “Mask-wearing would also be highly advised for unvaccinated individuals, the folks with comorbidities as well as senior residents.”
The move, according to the director of tourism, was taken so that the Philippines could catch up to its ASEAN neighbors, who have long relaxed their mask-wearing regulations.
The “E-arrival platform” will take the place of the One Health Pass required for all travelers entering the Philippines.
In addition to these, it was also decided to replace the One Health pass, which had previously been made public, with an E-Arrival platform, which would provide travelers and visitors with greater convenience because of its user-friendly interface, according to Frasco.
She noted that during the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting with several Cabinet secretaries last week, problems relating to mask mandates as well as new Covid-19 versions were thoroughly discussed.
The requirement for pre-departure testing into the Philippines in the form of RT-PCR, as well as the remaining strict protocols, were also discussed, she said.
Unvaccinated international visitors must show proof of an antigen Covid-19 test done either 24 hours prior to their departure or upon arrival in the Philippines.
Twenty questions that were previously posted have been cut down to 10, particularly those that pertain to tourism, she continued.
Frasco emphasized that the Philippine government made the decision to relax the final restriction on the dissemination of Covid-19 in order to signal to the world that the nation is “open and ready” for visitors.
“The overarching goal of the Marcos administration is to enable our nation to project to the world an openness and readiness to receive tourists and investments so that we would provide our fellow Filipinos with a chance to regain all the livelihood and losses that were incurred during the pandemic,” she said.
She stated that the Marcos administration was hopeful that the Filipino people would benefit from the removal of pandemic-related restrictions.
“We are optimistic that the removal of all of these restrictions by the Marcos government will only improve the lives of millions of Filipinos who will also profit from the resurgence of the tourism industry,” she said.
In September, Marcos issued Executive Order 3, which permits the voluntary use of masks outside, particularly in wide-open spaces and unpopulated, well-ventilated regions.
Reminding the public about safety precautions
Following the government’s decision to make the wearing of masks in indoor locations optional, the Department of Health on Tuesday reminded the populace of the additional protection they may obtain by complying to the basic public health measures against Covid-19.
The Health department stated in a statement that it will wait for the Malacaang to offer official guidelines.
The IATF is a collegial organization that takes into account the concerns of all sectors, according to the agency. “While the DoH has depicted all probable scenarios to the IATF during negotiations surrounding masking mandates,” it stated.
In light of this, the DoH advises the public that the more levels of defense we utilize against COVID-19, the better our protection is. In addition to taking care of one’s health, these include immunization, masking, separating from others, ventilation, and sanitation.
Before taking off masks indoors, the public was asked by the health service to carefully weigh the hazards.
Additionally, by allowing us to make decisions based on our individual contexts and risk tolerance, the decision to relax masking empowers each and every one of us, the agency stated.
With this freedom of choice, it is crucial for us to carefully evaluate our personal risk before determining whether it is safe and prudent to remove our masks. This is especially true now that the Undas and Christmas seasons are approaching and we anticipate an increase in Covid-19 transmission due to greater mobility.
Marcos signed Executive Order 3 in September allowing the voluntary use of masks outside, particularly in open spaces and unpopulated, well-ventilated outdoor venues.