DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday, September 5, 2022, that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will convene within the day to discuss the country’s health protocols amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), including the eased face mask rule imposed by the Cebu City Government.Vergeire made the statement in reaction to the executive order (EO) issued by Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama that makes the optional wearing of face mask effective until December 31, 2022.”First, we are not aware of this proposal. Second, lahat po ito, pag-uusapan mamaya. May IATF po kami. We have convened the IATF. It’s going to happen at 2 p.m.,” she said in a press briefing.Vergeire said the IATF will then come up with a recommendation, which will be submitted to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.She said the government has set up some conditions for the easing of restrictions amid the pandemic. These include the coverage of Covid-19 vaccination in the country and the number of cases in the country.While Vergeire acknowledged science-based evidence that showed the mandatory face mask policy can be lifted particularly in open spaces, she said the easing of restrictions must not be done recklessly but slowly and carefully.“Ang mask nakakaprotekta din sa atin pagka merong ibang sakit katulad nitong respiratory infections that are here in the country. Nandiyan ang flu, nandiyan ang pulmonya, at iba pang mga sakit,” she said.(Wearing of face mask also protects us from other respiratory infections, such as flu, pneumonia, and other diseases.)“We should remember that the virus is here to stay… Mayroon tayo dapat safeguard for ourselves and our families,” she added.Vergeire also said that according to science, wearing a face mask provides 70 to 80 percent protection against coronavirus infection.Rama’s new EO is supplemental to his earlier order that made the wearing of face masks in all areas in their jurisdiction, whether open spaces or not, non-obligatory. (SunStar Philippines)