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Mask mandate will remain in Manila

Honey Lacuna and Yul Servo
Mayor Honey Lacuna,walking fully masked along with Vice Mayor Yul Servo and her chief of staff Joshue Santiago. (JERRY S. TAN)

AMID the controversy stirred by Cebu City where wearing of face masks outdoors and in open spaces is no longer mandatory and fears expressed by Health officer-in-charge Secretary Rosario Vergeire that other local government units may copy the move, Manila is not likely to follow suit.

This became clear when, during the regular flagraising ceremony of the Manila City Hall on Monday, Mayor Honey Lacuna called on the residents to continue following the minimum health protocols, specifically, the wearing of face masks.

“Maipaalala ko lamang po, lagi po tayong susunod sa lahat po ng panuntunan ng ating lungsod. Ang mask mandate ay nandiyan pa rin,” Lacuna, who also happens to be a doctor, stressed.

“Ber months na…pasilip-silip na si Jose Mari Chan, kinakantahan na po kayo. Pero bago po tayo maging excited sa mga susunod na buwan lalo na sa paghahanda natin sa darating na Kapaskuhan, paalala lamang po…patuloy nating panatilihin ang minimum health protocols para na rin sa ating kaligtasan,” the lady mayor said.

She added: “Ang COVID ay nariyan pa rin sa ating paligid. Bagamat mababa na po ang munero o bilang ng COVID cases sa atin pong lungsod, wala paring tatalo sa pagiging maagap.”

Lacuna said while she respects the decision of Cebu, the city government of Manila will always abide by the dictates of the concerned national government agencies when it comes to addressing the pandemic.

According to her, the protocols are there for a reason and are the result of a thorough study done by health authorities and experts on the matter.

It will be recalled that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama signed on August 31, Executive Order No. 5, making the use of face masks in the city non-obligatory, with the decision on whether to wear the protective gear left to the decision of each person.

The wearing of face masks outdoors and in open spaces is no longer mandatory in Cebu City starting September 1..Vergeire said it is too soon to abandon the mask rule and expressed fear that other LGUs may copy what Cebu City had done.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. appealed to other local government units (LGUs) to put on hold any planned policies lifting the mandatory wearing of face masks in their areas until he is able to bring up the matter with the Inter-Agency Task Force.

After the EO stirred controversy, Rama issued a new EO calling the last four months of this year a “trial period” for the non-obligatory wearing of face masks in the city.

It said that all establishments, businesses and entities, including administrators of buildings and facilities, are granted the discretion to determine whether to require wearing face masks in their areas of responsibility.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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