Rama sets 4-month ‘trial period’ for non-masking in Cebu City

·2 min read

AFTER controversy erupted over his Executive Order (EO) 5 that lifted the mask mandate in Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, signed a new executive order calling the last four months of this year a “trial period” for the non-obligatory wearing of face masks in the city.

During the City Hall’s regular flag raising ceremony, Rama signed EO 6 that makes Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022 the “period of effectivity of Executive Order 5.”

But calling the first few months of implementation just a “trial period” still did not sit well with the Department of Health (DOH), which said it had not been informed of this latest measure.

Signed last Aug. 31, EO 5 declared the use of masks within the territorial jurisdiction of Cebu City non-obligatory whether in open spaces or not, except in medical facilities upon the discretion of its administrator, and for people experiencing flu-like symptoms who go outside their residences.

Executive Order 6 supplements the provisions of EO 5.

Under EO 6, the non-obligatory wearing of masks would be implemented from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022, called the “trial and observation period.”

In case of a surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections, the non-obligatory wearing of masks would be automatically lifted and the use of masks would become mandatory for all persons.

The surge in cases should be verified by pertinent indicative, reliable, and official data of the government in coordination with other institutions.

Last week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had asked Rama to suspend the implementation of EO 5, but the mayor had insisted that the order would stay.

When he asked Rama to suspend the order’s implementation, Abalos had committed to bring the matter of non-masking to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and suggest that should the non-obligatory wearing of masks be adopted by the national government, Cebu City would be made the pilot area for its implementation.

This commitment, and objections from the DOH that non-masking deviates from the national policy, had not prevented the mayor from pushing through with EO 5’s implementation.

In EO 6, the mayor explained why the City would continue with EO 5’s implementation.

Since the city was placed under the least restrictive Alert Level 1, Rama said, it has been able “to sustain the low incident of Covid-19 infection and has even managed to bring back the economy in the locality through shared responsibility and mutual respect; intensified and incentivized vaccination program; establishment of temporary treatment and monitoring facilities,” and other activities.

As of Sept. 5, the City Health Department had already vaccinated 850,495 individuals out of the target eligible population in the city of 700,000, which means the vaccination rate is 118.13 percent.

Some 178,474 persons have received their first booster shot.