No change in Lapu-Lapu City's face mask policy

·3 min read

MASK-WEARING is still mandated in Lapu-Lapu City.

Mayor Junard Chan, on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, said he is yet to issue an executive order (EO) making it optional to wear masks in open spaces in the city.

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Chan said he would adopt the EO of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, declaring the wearing of face masks within the territorial jurisdiction of the city as "non-obligatory" as soon as he secured a copy of it.

However, on Friday, Sept. 2, he said he didn’t have time to convene his health team to discuss the matter due to the ongoing evaluation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) for fiscal year 2022.

Lapu-Lapu City is the only city in Central Visayas to be conferred the SGLG by the DILG for its performance in 2018. The DILG also recognized the City for its Good Financial Housekeeping in 2021.

"We don’t have time to discuss the face mask. So the status quo remains the same,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, Rama said he could not defer implementation of his EO declaring the wearing of face masks as "non-obligatory but a measure of individual self-prevention and protection" since he already signed it.

DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. earlier announced that Rama agreed to temporarily hold the implementation of the said EO, which the latter issued on Wednesday.

Abalos had committed to bring the matter to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases for deliberation and suggested making Cebu City the pilot area for such an initiative.

Rama clarified that EO 5 did not totally lift the wearing of face masks since it is still mandatory inside health facilities, such as hospitals and clinics.

The EO also mandates persons with flu-like symptoms to wear face masks when going outside. It also allows establishments, schools and public utility vehicles to craft their own policies on whether to allow the optional wearing of face masks or not.

Rama also said he would talk to his lawyers to discuss possible provisions that could be added to the existing EO so it could harmonize with the national policy.

On Friday, the Department of Health (DOH) expressed concern over the possibility of Cebu City setting a bad precedent in refusing to adhere to the protocols set by the national government after its mayor lifted the mask mandate in the city.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, however, reiterated her call to concerned government officials to respect local autonomy.

Garcia said local officials are more aware of the situation in their areas, which is why their decisions should be respected.

Cebu Province was first to deviate from national coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) protocols when Garcia made the wearing of masks in outdoor and well-ventilated areas optional.

As of Friday, the DOH 7 recorded 60 active Covid-19 cases in Lapu-Lapu City, 576 cases in Cebu City and 90 cases in Mandaue City.