City allows optional use of masks outdoors

(Arnold Almacen photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

Wearing of facemasks in outdoor settings and open spaces in Iloilo City is now optional after the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) amended the Iloilo City Face Mask Ordinance during its regular session on Nov 3, 2022.

The city council approved the amendment of the City Regulation Ordinance (CRO) No. 2020-061 or the mandatory wearing of facemasks in public during a pandemic or epidemic period to conform to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order No. 3.

EO3 allowed the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces and non-crowded areas with adequate ventilation.

“It was agreed nga imbes nga suspension, i-amend na lang kay may mga provisions sa executive order nga may dapat pa masuksok sang facemasks,” Councilor Ely Estante said.

The City Council in its previous sessions seemed to reach a point of confusion when they discussed the fate of the city’s face mask mandate for the COVID-19 pandemic, as they could not decide whether they would suspend or amend CRO No. 2020-061.

The amended ordinance mandated that wearing of facemasks is still required when inside all types of public transportation, as well as health care facilities like hospitals, clinics, dialysis centers, and ambulances, among others, and violators of the specific provision will be fined P500 and should undergo community service.

The ordinance also “highly encouraged” the continued wearing of facemasks among the elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised individuals, unvaccinated individuals, asymptomatic persons, and pregnant women.

The City Council also emphasized that the optional wearing of facemasks does not mean that the country is already free from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the public still needs to protect themselves and continue to practice the minimum health protocols.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas also earlier said that he “fully supports” the EO of Marcos, citing that other countries had already started discarding the mandatory wearing of facemasks, and it was already “time to open up the economy.”

Meanwhile, data from the Department of Health Western Visayas (DOH 6) indicated that as of Nov 5, 2022, the city has already logged a total of 35,613 COVID-19 cases (307 active, 34,544 recoveries, and 744 fatalities) since the pandemic broke out.