DILG to LGUs: Pass ordinance on mandatory wearing of face mask in public
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today urges local government units (LGUs) to pass an ordinance requiring their constituents to wear face masks in public as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Following the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that LGUs issuing an ordinance requiring residents to wear face masks in public can help in ensuring that people are not passing the virus around.
He says that as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surges, LGUs must adapt and respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic and drafting such ordinance that requires citizens to wear face masks outside their home is doing just that.
"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. This is our small way of ensuring that the virus will not spread," says Año who was also recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is now on self-quarantine.
He explains that the government will accept improvised or home-made face masks so long as people use it in public. He says that coupled with the other mechanisms currently existing in line with the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) such as physical distancing, usage of quarantine passes, and encouraging people to stay at home, among others, mandatory wearing of face masks whenever people are outside is an additional measure that can be practiced within the community.
"Kung maipapasa ng mga LGU ang ordinansa ng mandatory wearing of face mask, dagdag na naman ito sa mga umiiral na hakbang ng pamahalaan sa pagpigil sa pagkalat ng coronavirus sa ating mga pamayanan and right now, we cannot be limiting ourselves to minimal preventive measures," he says.
He says that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Unites States of America are mulling on changing their stand on the usage of face masks in controlling the coronavirus.
WHO initially recommended that community level usage of face masks is not encouraged noting that it should only be worn by people with COVID-19 symptoms and health care workers.
He says that a US study prompted WHO and CDC's possible change of heart. The said study suggests that droplets from coughs and sneezes could be projected further than originally thought, hence, requiring people to wear face masks for some protection.
"Despite the fact that people generally are staying at home, hindi pa rin naman natin maiiwasan na minsan ay lumabas sila para bumili ng pagkain at ibang essentials at maaari itong maging pagkakataon para maipasa ang virus kaya lubhang napakahalaga ng pagsusuot ng face masks," he points out.
Meanwhile, PLtGen Guillermo Eleazar of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield also calls for the passage of local ordinances mandating people to wear masks when they are outside their house or in public.
He says that without the presence of an ordinance, the PNP can only reprimand people who will not wear face masks in public.
"Sa ngayon, what we can do is to caution them, para sila ay pauwiin or deny them entry sa ating mga quarantine controlled points," Eleazar says.