City government reinstates ‘mandatory face mask rule’

(A. Almacen photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City government offices are once again requiring wearing face masks on the premises, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to rise in May 2023.

Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, as acting mayor, issued Executive Order (EO) No. 064, series of 2023, on May 22, which states that wearing face masks must be mandatory in all indoor and outdoor settings in the vicinity of city government offices.

Mayor Jerry Treñas, who is in South Korea for official business, told media via Viber on Monday morning that he recommended this order to Ganzon, citing recent COVID data.

“I am recommending to [Ganzon] the return of the use of [face masks] in City Hall due to the Rising cases of [COVID-19]. […] Our services will be affected if many of our employees are infected,” Treñas said.

Treñas had been on-and-off about wearing face masks in the city, despite official logs indicating a rise in COVID-19 cases since March.

He reinstated the use of face masks in early April after he and his wife tested positive and were admitted for COVID-19.

As chairperson of the Local Health Board, he issued Advisory No. 1, s. 2023, detailing the voluntary and mandatory use of masks in the city, based on national government issuances.

EO No. 48, series of 2023 was later issued reiterating this advisory.

But face masks were made voluntary by the mayor via EO No. 55 issued on May 9, following the removal of COVID-19’s status as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization on May 5.

The city government logged 10 new cases as of Sunday, May 21, including 7 index cases and 3 local transmissions.

From May 1 to 21, the city logged a total of 283 COVID-19 cases, a 206 percent increase from the total number of cases for the whole month of April (137).

The daily average of COVID-19 cases also escalated to 14, up by 280 percent from 5 cases daily in April.

The 2-week case trend released on Monday indicated a steady rise in infections – from 58 cases between April 10 and 23 to 141 cases on April 24 to May 7, and 212 cases on May 8 to 21.