Mask-wearing rule stays in Cebu City, mayor says

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2022 04:02 PM

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MANILA — Face masks will remain mandatory in public places in Cebu City, its mayor said Monday, even as Cebu Province has relaxed its COVID-19 curbs.

"The City of Cebu, I would say, is not yet prepared for an optional [mask wearing rule]," Mayor Michael Rama told TeleRadyo.

He said the city government still requires anyone to mask up even in outdoor settings.

This, despite the city being under Alert Level 1, the loosest of the country's 5-tier COVID-19 alert scheme.

As of June 12, Cebu City has 41 active cases of coronavirus infections, data from the Department of Health's COVID-19 tracker showed. Since the pandemic began, it logged a total of 56,304 COVID-19 cases, of which 1,622 resulted in deaths.

Rama's remark came after Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia issued an executive order last week, saying face masks would be required only in closed and air-conditioned areas.

“The use of face masks shall be optional in well-ventilated and open spaces,” the order read.

However, people with COVID-19 symptoms would be required to wear a mask whenever they leave their homes.

Cebu Province is currently under Alert Level 2, which means there is still relatively low vaccination coverage in some areas.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government does not recognize Garcia's order as it goes against IATF guidelines, which were approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has warned that those who violate such health protocol may be arrested "if necessary".

"The Philippine National Police will continue to confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary, all violators of IATF guidelines and [minimum public health standards] in the province of Cebu," he has said.

The Cebu provincial police has said though that Garcia's executive order easing the province's outdoor mask rule "remains the law."