Pass ordinance on mandatory wearing of face masks, LGUs urged
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units to pass an ordinance requiring residents in their respective areas to wear face masks in public as a measure to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the move would be an additional step to combat the viral illness, in addition to physical distancing and other measures being imposed by the government.
“We must be vigilant. Hindi biro ang coronavirus na ito kaya hinihikayat ko ang mga LGU na tiyakin na ang kanilang mga kababayan ay laging nakasuot ng face mask kapag sila ay lalabas sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabatas ng ordinansa ukol dito,” said Año, who was among government officials who tested positive for COVID-19.
(We must be vigilant. The coronavirus is a serious matter so we are encouraging LGUs to ensure that residents always wear face masks when they go out of their homes by passing an ordinance.)
According to the DILG chief, authorities will tolerate the use of improvised or home-made face masks once the LGUs enforce this measure.
Earlier, when the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is still relatively low, the Department of Health (DOH) advised that face masks be used only by health workers or those showing symptoms of the disease.
In explaining this call for LGUs, a press statement from the DILG noted that a study from the US suggested that “droplets from coughs and sneezes could be projected further than originally thought, hence, requiring people to wear face masks for some protection.”
Año noted that even Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, head of the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield, is also calling for the passage of local ordinances mandating people to wear face masks when they step out of their residences.
Without an ordinance, Eleazar, also the deputy chief for operations of the Philippine National Police, said the police can only reprimand those who will not wear face masks in public.
“Sa ngayon (For now), what we can do is to caution them, para sila ay pauwiin (tell them to go back to their homes) or deny them entry sa ating mga (in) quarantine controlled points,” he said.
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