DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 September) – The local task force on Covid-19 called on establishments in Davao City to strictly enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks indoors and other enclosed spaces.
During her program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday, Dr. Michelle Schlosser, task force spokesperson, said virus transmission is more likely to happen in enclosed spaces with no proper ventilation than outdoors where wearing mask is now optional based on Executive Order No. 3 issued Monday by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
She said members of the security cluster have been tasked to monitor the implementation of the face mask policy indoors but added the local government hopes for cooperation from the establishments since the police also need to maintain security aside from monitoring compliance with the minimum public health standards.
“The monitoring will be done by the men in uniform, and we will be needing the help of the establishments because with so many people going around inside establishments here in Davao, they can outnumber our men in uniform,” she said.
After almost three years of battling Covid-19, Schlosser said, the local government believes that establishments and other institutions know the importance of keeping face masks on in poorly ventilated offices to avoid getting infected.
She said City Ordinance No. 0307-20 passed on July 23, 2020, imposing mandatory wearing of face masks in public areas remains applicable for indoor spaces.
Under the ordinance, any person “caught not wearing a face mask in public places shall be penalized with a fine of P500 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 or one-month imprisonment for the third offense.”
Schlosser urged individuals who belong to the vulnerable sector, including senior citizens and the immunocompromised, who may likely suffer from severe to critical type of Covid-19, to keep their masks on in public and observe physical distancing.
“All of us have responsibility towards ourselves and other people. We appeal to people to wear your masks during social events. Please, you know what is risky and what is not… Be responsible because at the of the day, you are not only one to be affected, you will also affect your loved ones and the entire community where you live,” she said.
From September 4 to 10, the city government recorded 19 deaths due to Covid-19, most of whom were senior citizens and unvaccinated individuals.
Schlosser hopes that with voluntary wearing of face masks in public areas, Covid-19 cases will not significantly increase.
She urged the public to get vaccinated to prevent the severe to critical type of Covid-19 that would lead to death.
Marcos Jr. released EO No. 3 last Monday allowing optional wearing of face masks in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.
In issuing the order, the President approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowing the optional wearing of face masks in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.
It said that as of September 6, 2022, there were 72 million individuals or 93% of the target population in the country who are fully vaccinated against the virus while 18 million or 23% have received booster doses.
Section 1 provides that the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, is hereby allowed, provided that not fully-vaccinated individuals, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their masks, and physical distancing will be observed all times.
It added that “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.”
Section 2 states that the minimum public health standards intended to effectively prevent and minimize the spread of Covid-19 shall continue to be implemented consistent with the principles of shared accountability, evidence-based decision-making, socioeconomic equity and rights-based approach. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)