Mandaue City Council will not amend face mask ordinance pending go-signal from IATF

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THE Mandaue City Council will amend its face mask ordinance once President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. approves the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases' recommendation of voluntary face mask wearing outdoors.

Vice Mayor Glenn Bercede issued the statement on Thursday, September 8, 2022.

Bercede said the council will wait for the IATF directive before deliberating the amendment of the City’s face mask ordinance.

"It is best that there is approval from the DOH (Department of Health) and DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) before we take action. But that's great news," he said in Cebuano.

In the meantime, the City Government called on the public to follow the existing face mask ordinance, which imposes a fine of P5,000 on people caught not wearing face masks in public places.

On Monday, September 5, Mayor Jonas Cortes said the City Government opted to retain the face mask ordinance, based on suggestions of local health officials.

The mayor earlier expressed his intent to amend the ordinance after Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama signed Executive Order (EO) 5, making face masks non-obligatory. Rama also signed EO 6 to supplement EO 5, which set a trial period for the policy from September 1 to December 31, 2022.

However, Cortes said the City will follow the mandate of the DOH and DILG regarding the matter.

Cebu Province was the first to implement the optional face mask policy in open spaces last June after Governor Gwendolyn Garcia signed EO 16.

On Wednesday, September 7, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the IATF recommended "liberalizing" the face mask policy in open, non-crowded, and well-ventilated areas nationwide, provided that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) booster uptake in the country improved.

Angeles, although, said it is not a policy yet. But she said a pilot testing of the optional face mask will be conducted towards the end of the year.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said President Marcos already "verbally approved" IATF's recommendation after he talked with DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos.

Vergeire said the President will soon release an EO on the matter, but he has not given a specific timeline.

Despite that, Vergeire and the IATF highly encouraged senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals to continue wearing face masks. (HIC)