Cebu City relaxes face mask mandate

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2022 09:27 AM | Updated as of Aug 31 2022 04:31 PM

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MANILA (UPDATED) – Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has relaxed the mandatory wearing of face masks in his area, according to a document made public on Wednesday.

Individuals should "be granted discretion on the wearing of face mask", Rama said in an executive order posted on Facebook. 

"The use and wearing of face mask is hereby declared as non-obligatory within the territorial jurisdiction of the City of Cebu," the EO said. 
 
Rama earlier in the day said his order would only keep face masks mandatory in hospitals, clinics, and other diagnostic centers.

“’Yun ang mga sinasabi nating area na talagang we do not want to be telling them, 'wag na kayo magsuot' kasi that is where infections are brewing,” he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Those are the areas where we cannot tell them to stop wearing face masks, because these are the areas where infections are brewing.)
 
Rama said the push to ease mask mandates was in line with the goal of opening the city and Cebu province to more tourists.

“We are getting to look at also our data. At the same time, we are practically opening One Cebu Island, concept namin with Governor Gwen Garcia, One Cebu Island policy with respect to many things, including tourism, and even our concern to address medical issues,” he said.

The mayor said those who still wish to wear face masks in his city remain free to do so.

“Actually, kung tutuusin mo, yung thrust dito, it becomes self-regulatory. At saka you cannot be compelling also, 'pag talagang they wish to wear face mask, (sa) amin that is their, shall we say, discretion,” he noted. 

(The thrust here is it becomes self-regulatory. And you cannot be compelling also, if they wish to wear face mask, that is their shall we say, discretion.) 

Rama’s order comes a few months after national government officials pushed back on Garcia’s proposal to lift mask mandates in the entire Cebu province.

Asked about facing criticism from other officials with regard to his order, Rama said government must now “move forward” in the fight against the pandemic.

“We have to move forward, rise up and move forward and be more already looking at, from the point of view of pragmatism,” he said.

— TeleRadyo, 31 August 2022