Iloilo adopts optional wearing of facemasks in outdoor areas

Iloilo province has allowed the optional wearing of facemasks in open spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Iloilo City may follow soon after Mayor Jerry Treñas approved the said recommendation by national health authorities. (Arnold Almacen photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Wearing facemasks in outdoor areas will now be optional in Iloilo province.

The move takes effect after Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. issued Executive Order No. 260-G or “An Order Further Extending The Effectivity Of Executive Order No. 260, Series Of 2022, As Amended, Placing The Entire Province of Iloilo Under Covid-19 Alert Level And Implementing Health and Safety Standards and Protocols, Until 15 September 2022.

Defensor issued the order on Sept. 7, 2022 and was deemed effective immediately.

The optional wearing of facemasks outdoors is contained in Section 2.

But under Section 2 (a.), it is stated that “at all times, well-fitted masks shall be worn properly in indoor private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air, or sea.”

The masks can be taken off for the following instances:

-Eating and drinking;

-Participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained; and

-Practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City said on Thursday he is also in favor of the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces.

“I support the IATF recommendation of making the wearing of masks outdoors optional,” he said.

But Treñas said immunocompromised persons may opt to continue wearing masks outdoors while others may decide not to.

It can be noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (NIATF-EID) has recommended the wearing of face masks outdoors voluntarily nationwide.

In Negros Occidental, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said that they will just wait for the Executive Order from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the recommendation of the NIATF to drop the mandatory wearing of masks in open public places.

Diaz said they will follow if such an order is issued.

But on a personal note, Diaz said he agrees with the stand of Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson not to do away with the wearing of masks because it helps in preventing the spread not only of COVID- 19 but other infectious diseases as well. (With a report from Dolly Yasa)