Davao City follows optional masking rule
DAVAO CITY — Residents now have the option to wear or take off their masks in open spaces in the city after Mayor Sebastian Duterte issued an executive order on the policy, nine days after President Marcos made the wearing of masks outdoors optional nationwide as the COVID-19 situation improved in the country.
But Duterte’s Executive Order No. 43 directs the continuous implementation of minimum public health standards in Davao. Its issuance was delayed as Duterte decided to wait and see how the easing of the masking policy would affect the number of COVID cases in other towns and cities that promptly modified their health protocols.
“The voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces and noncrowded outdoor areas with good ventilation is [now] allowed, provided that individuals, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their masks and to observe physical distancing at all times,” the executive order said.
Duterte stressed that the city would continue to enforce the strict wearing of face masks in enclosed public spaces and commercial establishments.
Face masks, the order said, should also be worn while using public transportation “by land, air or sea, and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
The city’s health ordinance, passed during the height of the pandemic in July 2020, penalized those who failed to wear masks in public areas with a fine of P500 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P5,000 for the third offense, which could also include jail time.
The City Health Office earlier recommended that the wearing of face masks should be continued indoors to protect the public not only from COVID-19 but also from other contagious diseases, including monkeypox. As of Sept. 17, Davao City had 516 active COVID cases, 60 percent of which were asymptomatic and 36 percent mild. The city had also exceeded its vaccination target, health officials said. —REPORTS FROM CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO AND JUDY QUIROS
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