PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. issued on Monday, September 12, 2022, an executive order (EO) allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor setting across the country amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.Under EO 3, which is “effective immediately,” wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory in “open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.”But the elderly, immunocompromised individuals and those who have not yet completed their Covid-19 vaccination are “highly encouraged” to continue wearing their face masks in all public areas to ensure their protection.Fully vaccinated individuals are those who have completed their primary series of Covid-19 vaccine.“Face masks shall continue to be worn in indoor private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air, or sea and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” read the EO.It also stated that all departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the government, as well as the local government units (LGUs) are directed to render full assistance and cooperation for the effective and orderly implementation of the order.It also ordered the Department of Health to update the minimum public health standard guidelines to continue preventing and minimizing the spread of coronavirus.In a press conference, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the policy will regularly be reviewed.“We are doing this in stages in phases so that we can get feedback on whether or not these new policies are working and how to make them more efficient so that hopefully by the end of the year, we might be able to be voluntary masked indoors as well,” she said.“We’ll need the feedback if the voluntary mask outdoors is going to contribute to something, then of course, the policy will be reviewed,” she added.Angeles said LGUs are given the discretion to adjust minimum health standards in their areas of jurisdiction in accordance with the new policy, as well as to identify the “open and well ventilated spaces” in their areas.“There is some discretion of the local governments to establish minimum standards for the imposition. However, in general what does good ventilation mean may opportunities for instance na crowded, so even if it is outdoors, hindi good ventilation yun and you’re in each other’s faces so without the possibility of social distancing, then this will be considered also as part of the requirement kasi ang requirement, it should not be too crowded,” she said.As of September 11, there were 25,684 active Covid-19 cases in the country, which has a total caseload of 3,906,269 with 62,304 deaths.Over 72 million individuals have received complete Covid-19 vaccination, while over 18 million persons received booster doses. (SunStar Philippines)