LAPU-LAPU City Vice Mayor Celedonio “Celsi” Sitoy is not keen on making the wearing of face masks outdoors optional.

While he and Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan have yet to talk on the matter, Sitoy believed that it is not yet time to drop the mandatory use of face masks in public places.

“Sayo ra ang paghunong nato og gamit sa atong (It’s too early to stop the use of) face masks,” he said on Sunday, June 12, 2022.

The vice mayor issued the statement four days after Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) No. 16 that makes the wearing of face masks in open and well-ventilated spaces in the province optional but it still mandates the mandatory wearing of masks in closed and air-conditioned places. The order does not cover the highly urbanized cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu.

Sitoy, a doctor, said he has reservations on making the use of face masks optional in open spaces, citing the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is not yet over, as more variants have recently been detected in the country.

Sitoy admitted that it is fine to do away with face masks in open spaces, but he said that there is still a possibility of transmission of the virus.

The reelected Vice Mayor said the city is still following the policy of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Under Garcia’s EO No. 16, persons with Covid-19 symptoms would also still be required to wear a mask at all times when they leave their homes.

Cebu Province is the first local government to impose such a protocol while the entire country, as ordered by the IATF and President Rodrigo Duterte himself, continues to adhere to the mandatory face mask rule amid the prevailing pandemic.

Garcia issued the executive order even though Cebu Province remains on Alert Level 2 until June 15, except for Talisay City, and the towns of Alcoy, Borbon, Oslob, Pilar, Santander and Tudela, which are under the less restrictive Alert Level 1.