PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. issued on Friday, October 28, 2022, an executive order allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks indoors amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Under Executive Order 07, the wearing of face masks both indoors and outdoors shall be optional except in healthcare facilities, such as clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes and dialysis clinics; medical transport vehicles such as ambulance and paramedic rescue vehicles; and public transportation either by land, air or sea.

The elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised persons, pregnant women, unvaccinated individuals and persons manifesting symptoms of Covid-19 are still “highly encouraged” to continue wearing face masks especially in public places.

“As a result of continued immunization, countries around the world have been instituting measures such as reopening or international borders, and relaxation of health and safety protocols and requirements, resulting in immediate positive impacts to their economies,” the EO read.

“A policy of voluntary wearing of lace masks in both indoor and outdoor settings is a positive step towards normalization, and a welcome development that would encourage activities and boost efforts toward the full reopening of the economy,” it added.

It was also noted in the EO that there was no significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in countries that lifted the mandatory wearing of face masks.

The EO also urged the public to exercise due diligence in carrying out health protocols, such as practice of good hygiene, frequent hand-washing, observance or physical distancing, and maintenance of good ventilation especially in indoor settings.

The local government units are also directed to submit the status of their Covid-19 vaccination efforts to the Department of Health.

“All departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the government including state universities and colleges, government-owned or -controlled corporations and government financial institutions, and LGUs are directed to render full assistance to and cooperation with the lATF for the effective and orderly Implementation of this Order,” it said.

As of October 26, 73.5 million individuals or over 95 percent of the total target population in the country were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 while 20.5 million have booster doses.

The Philippines currently has a total of 21,685 active Covid-19 cases. The total caseload since 2020 is at 4,000,783. (SunStar Philippines)