The national government has recently issued two separate policies on the wearing of face masks.

The first one was Executive Order (EO) No. 3, which was issued by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on September 12, 2022. The EO states that wearing masks is no longer mandatory in “open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.”

However, the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and those who have not yet completed their Covid-19 vaccination are “highly encouraged” to continue wearing their masks in all public areas.

The second policy was EO No. 7, which was issued by the President on October 28, 2022.

Under the EO, the wearing of face masks both indoors and outdoors shall be optional except in healthcare facilities, such as clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics; medical transport vehicles such as ambulance and paramedic rescue vehicles; and public transportation either by land, air or sea.

The EO also "highly" encourages the elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised persons, pregnant women, unvaccinated individuals, and persons manifesting symptoms of Covid-19 to continue wearing face masks, especially in public places.

“As a result of continued immunization, countries around the world have been instituting measures such as reopening or international borders, and relaxation of health and safety protocols and requirements, resulting in immediate positive impacts to their economies,” the EO read.

Following the release of the two EOs, the Department of Labor and Employment has allowed the voluntary wearing of face masks in workplaces while the Department of Education has also allowed the voluntary wearing of masks in schools.

The easing of face mask restrictions is a step forward as we move into a post-pandemic society. However, the reality is, that Covid-19 will still be around. But thanks to modern medicine the medical community has developed a vaccine and treatment to combat the disease.

Yet, there is still a need for us to be mindful of when we wear or do not wear masks.

If you are walking home or along the sidewalk where there is minimal interaction with other people, you can opt to temporarily not wear a face mask. Likewise, in an open area or places with good ventilation where there is a light crowd, you may also opt to not wear your mask.

However, it is important that we wear a face mask if we are in an extremely crowded area to lessen the risk of exposure to the virus. This is also true for public transport or enclosed areas.

If you notice someone in the same place where you are that may be showing flu-like symptoms, you might have to wear a mask. If you are someone whose line of work involves the need to socialize and communicate with a lot of people, you might need to regularly keep that face mask on.

When President Marcos issued the two EOs, the voluntary wearing of face masks does not mean we have to just stop wearing our face masks. With the issuance of the two EOs, there is a need for us to be mindful and responsible as to when we wear or do not wear our face masks.