“IT'S still required.”

The clarification came from Department of Health (DOH)-Region 6 Director Dr. Adriano Suba-an yesterday regarding the use of face masks especially indoors and mass gatherings outdoors despite an impending order from the national government of making its use optional.

On Wednesday, September 7, the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on infectious disease recommended to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr, to make the wearing of facemasks outdoors optional.

But Suba-an, who attended the groundbreaking of Bacolod City General Hospital (BCGH) in Bacolod City yesterday, stressed that although wearing of face mask outdoors will soon become optional little cautious for senior citizens and those with comorbidities is still a must

“It’s very clear that from the beginning that health authorities would like to protect the senior citizens and persons with comorbidities against the disease,” he said.

Suba-an added that hopefully people will discern well on when to use the face masks as well as on which type to use while attending a number of activities.

“So, we expect everybody to be responsible as well,” the regional chief of the DOH emphasized.

For, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, he said that he would still require the use of facemask inside the Provincial Capitol building in Bacolod City.

“We will follow it (if there is an executive order on the optional use of facemasks),” Lacson said, adding that studies have been made before the IATF decided on the matter.

As of yesterday, however, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has not yet issued an executive order (EO) making the facemask use outdoors optional.

The governor has earlier said that he would still personally use facemasks for his protection even if an order is issued making its use optional.

In Bacolod, Dr. Anna Maria Laarni Pornan, head of the local Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), had said that the highly-urbanized city will follow the directives on optional wearing of face masks.

However, she noted that Bacolod City is apparently not yet ready (to make facemask optional) because it still has high cases of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, despite not releasing an order on optional facemask use, Marcos approved in principle the IATF recommendation according to some of his Cabinet officials.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that the proposal on making facemask use outdoors optional seeks to boost Philippine tourism, and makes the wearing of face masks outdoors optional.

Although the pilot-testing of the move in some selected “low-risk areas” will be conducted by the end of the year so long that there is an improvement in the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) booster vaccination coverage, Angeles said in a statement.

She emphasized that senior citizens and people with weak immune systems would still be encouraged to continue wearing face masks.