Seares: Capitol drop-mask rule 'reflects widespread fed-up mood.' Duterte, DILG insist on IATF policy. Guv Gwen allows option for some people to insist on cover if they don't wish to display their face.

·3 min read

IN AN executive order (EO #16, series of 2022, dated June 8, 2022), Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia has made optional the wearing of a mask in well-ventilated and open spaces. It shall be required only in “closed and/or air-conditioned areas.” In other cases, such as when one is ill and vulnerable or in large crowds, mask wearing is optional.

The EO -- which obviously does not apply to Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City – drops the mask requirement but does not make the wearing of one compulsory.

WORSE THAN HALF-MASK. How about hanging the mask from ears or neck, not covering any part of the face, but ready to go up on the wearer’s bidding? Worse than the “half-mask” that media specialist Max T. Limpag recommends, in half-jest.

Here’s the thing: it’s a phase of the pandemic where most people have relaxed their guard and are in no mood to follow rigidly the health protocols when they knew not enough about Covid-19. During that time, even Guv Gwen was uptight in enforcing everything the national agency IATF ordered.

DUTERTE: FOLLOW IATF. An expert, Dr. Rontgene Solante, interviewed on TV in reaction to the Cebu Province EO, offered little dissent. He said the mask requirement may be discarded only if the person is: (a) fully vaccinated; (b) not vulnerable to infection due to disease or age; and (c) is not in a large crowd. Pretty much the same as in the governor’s EO, except that the EO leans more heavily on discarding the mask as much as possible.

The Department of Health (DOH), also in response to the EO, is more reluctant about moving faster towards normalcy. DOH said masks may be removed only if one is eating or engaged in sports and other physical activities in well-ventilated areas.

The minor disagreement of experts is not likely to intensify, their opinion or President Duterte’s declaration notwithstanding. Friday, June 10, the president, through DILG chief Eduardo Año, ordered that “we will continue to wear masks, except under circumstances defined by” IATF. Earlier, the president said the mask mandate will remain until his last day in office.

TIRED, FED-UP. Not that advice from experts is no longer useful or most people might see Duterte as a lame-duck. People are just fed up, tired over all the restrictions when much of the rest of the world now do their work or play minus the mask.

Most people have been wearied by incessant health protocols and contrasting opinions on what to do and not to do. It would require another widespread surge of transmission, hospitalization and deaths to make the people as submissive as they were two years or a year ago. Or mass arrests, which the police couldn’t do during the election season and are not likely to do now.

REASONS TO MASK UP. Governor Gwen, explaining her EO two days after it took effect, added a list reasons for optional mask-wearing.

The basic “whys” for must-wear are health consideration, such as having multiple ailments with incomplete vaccination, and one’s location, such as being in a big crowd or enclosed and crowded space.

Another understandable but not compelling cause to mask up, the governor allows, is when one wants to cover some part of one’s face. A personal reason not to display the face. Which she explained without saying the word “ugly.” Check out the video clip from the Capitol publicist’s social media, as it’s not in any of the regular-media news stories.

That particular reason came up sometime during the pandemic when nasty language was said against regulators wearing, or not wearing, masks.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting