DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 July) – Persons who don’t wear face masks in public places in Davao City would be meted fines and imprisonment, according to an ordinance passed Tuesday by the city council which aims to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The ordinance, authored by Councilor Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz, will remain in effect until after the lifting of the state of public health emergency triggered by the pandemic.
It requires the wearing of face masks in schools, workplaces, government facilities, outdoor spaces like playgrounds, among others.
Other than surgical and N95 masks, the local government permits the use of other types of protective devices, firmly fastened over the face and covering the nose, mouth, and chin, which include cloth masks, bandanas and washable masks.
Under the ordinance, P500 will be meted for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 or one-month imprisonment or both for the third offense.
The agencies tasked to implement the ordinance are the city police office, Task Force Davao, City Health Office, barangay officials, and other law enforcers and city officials to be determined by the mayor.
Last week, Mayor Sara Duterte said she wanted such an ordinance passed after receiving complaints that some customers would remove their facemasks after entering business establishments.
“We received reports that once they are inside these establishments, they would no longer wear facemasks as if once they are inside, the virus is no longer there. We remind everyone that the virus is everywhere, and we have asymptomatic (cases), meaning they are carriers but they don’t manifest symptoms such as fever, cough, and colds,” Duterte said over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5).
She added she could not impose penalties on violators with her executive orders, as this authority is given to the city council through ordinances.
“As a mayor, I can write laws without penalties. That is one of the limitations of my law-making power. The only one that can draft law with penalties is the local councilor. So, we need an ordinance,” she said.
With the shift to modified general community quarantine last July 1, Duterte said hotels and similar establishments are allowed to open at 50-percent capacity.
Duterte told Dabawenyos to keep wearing facemasks inside establishments, except when they drink or eat, to decrease the chances of getting infected.
According to the World Health Organization, majority of COVID-19 transmissions are through patients with symptoms but the actual rates of transmission by asymptomatic individuals have yet to be known. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)