While supporting the easing of the outdoor mask mandate, independent monitoring OCTA Research said it hopes the government will put in place a “set of triggers” for the reimposition of the policy.
“In OCTA we believe that any change in policy should be grounded in science and based on ensuring public health and safety for all. To this end OCTA has suggested to government through channels that a set of milestones to be achieved first as a prerequisite to the lifting of the outdoor mask mandate such as increasing booster rates etc. as well as defining a set of triggers to reimpose the use of masks outdoors should a serious surge in cases happen,” OCTA said in a statement.
“We hope the government can still consider these in the implementation of its new policy,” it added.
The group said relaxing the face mask policy has been discussed by its members since May this year as part of initiatives out of the pandemic.
Independent monitoring group OCTA Research on Monday backed the implementation of a national policy allowing the voluntary use of face masks in outdoor settings.
“We have been at the forefront of advocating the relaxation of the mask mandate for the outdoors as long as these spaces are not crowded and there is good ventilation,” it said.
“The key issue for OCTA was not if but when to lift the mask mandate for the outdoors,” it added.
Earlier, Malacañang announced that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has issued Executive Order No. 3 (EO) which allows the non-wearing of masks outdoors.
EO No. 3 states that “the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces and noncrowded 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 at all times.”
The order added that face masks should still 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.”
OCTA said it would continue to monitor the state of COVID-19 in the country. it also encouraged the public to participate in government’s vaccination and booster programs.
“Mask or no mask, the vaccine programs need to be intensified as these are the most viable ways to protect our citizens from Covid-19,” it said. “We must continue to be vigilant as COVID-19 is still here and continues to be a threat to all”