WITH December 25 just a couple of days away, the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, November 4, 2022, strongly urged the public to continue wearing face masks when they go to malls and other commercial centers to do their Christmas shopping.

In a press conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they continue to encourage mallgoers to choose to wear their face masks despite the easing of the mask mandate.

“We hope everybody already knows our own risk levels, and on when should we wear mask or not,” said Vergeire.

“If we are vulnerable — elderly, with comorbidities, unvaccinated, close contacts of vulnerables — let us choose to always wear masks inside establishments,” she added.

The DOH Officer-in-Charge also said mall operators and management are urged to reinforce calls to continue masking when inside their establishments.

She said making the use of face masks voluntary does not mean that it should be discouraged.

“Let us help the government protect the sectors with high risk of getting Covid-19 that are severe infections,” said the health official.

“We hope they will have policies that encourage these sectors of the population to wear their masks even in indoor spaces,” added Vergeire.

Last week, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order (EO) No. 7, which makes wearing face masks indoors optional, except in healthcare facilities, medical transport vehicles and public transportation.

EO 7, however, still recommends the wearing of face masks for the elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, those unvaccinated and people with Covid-19 symptoms. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)