Voluntary face mask use outdoors is ‘a dangerously misguided policy’ – youth group
MANILA, Philippines — The Kabataan Party-list has criticized Executive Order (EO) No. 3 which allows the voluntary use of face masks in outdoor settings, insisting that wearing a face mask is “a top protective measure” amid the persistent threat of COVID-19.
The youth organization hit President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for being “overly confident” with such a directive even if his administration could not assure faster anti-coronavirus vaccination rates, free mass testing, and affordable COVID-19 treatment, among others.
“In combating the spread of COVID-19 which is an airborne disease, wearing of face masks remains to be a top protective measure,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said in a statement on Monday.
The group also argued that the current Marcos administration is continuing the “vaccine-centric” pandemic response of former President Rodrigo Duterte, but stressed that the prevailing pace of anti-coronavirus vaccination and rollout of booster shots in the country remains “sluggish.”
Manuel lamented that health experts and professionals are in the “back seat” in decisions related to the pandemic.
“Policies like making masks optional in outdoor spaces arise when health experts and professionals take the back seat in national decision-making,” he said. “Public officials should be the first to educate their constituents about COVID-19, rather than let the people be harmed by dangerously misguided policies.”
Marcos on Monday signed EO No. 3 that made face masks use in “open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation” optional.
READ: Face mask use now voluntary outdoors but…
The measure, however, also states that “face masks shall continue to be worn in indoor private or public establishments, including public transportation by land, air, or sea, and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
It further noted that immunocompromised individuals, senior citizens, and those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are still “strongly encouraged” to continue wearing face masks even outdoors. — Christian Paul Dela Cruz, trainee
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