The Philippines Is Ending Its Outdoor Mask Mandate

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved a recommendation to end the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors across the country more than two years after it was imposed at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, top officials said Wednesday.

The Philippines and Myanmar are the last countries in Southeast Asia still requiring the compulsory wearing of masks outdoors, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said, adding the change in the country’s masking policy will take effect after Marcos Jr. issues an executive order.

He said that a study found that people who continue taking precautions have not seen an increase in infection rates after the obligatory requirement was lifted in countries other than the United States.

Abalos appealed people to wash their hands often and to stay away from each other. She also encouraged those with chronic illnesses and the elderly to use masks outside.

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Rosario Vergeire (a senior health official) stated that an agency dealing with the pandemic will examine whether masks must be worn indoors by a government entity. It may decide to lift the ban on the wearing of masks in public spaces towards the end the year, which would increase the chances of getting their coronavirus booster shot.

After Mayor Michael Rama, central Cebu City, declared that outdoor mask wearing was voluntary during a test period which ended at the end the year, the government took the necessary steps.

The Philippines was one of the worst affected by the coronavirus epidemics in Southeast Asia. It imposed the longest lockdown in history, which led to the country’s most severe economic depression in years and increased poverty and hunger.

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