ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas issued Tuesday, May 9, 2023, an executive order (EO) mandating the voluntary wearing of face masks following the Department of Health's recognition of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lifting of public health emergency of international concern on coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In his EO 55, Treñas stressed the need to maintain “public awareness, vigilance, cooperation and full adherence to public health protocols,” which he said are vital in community-wide responses.

Iloilo City has been placed under Alert Level 1, which refers to areas with low and decreasing Covid-19 case transmission, low total bed utilization rate, and low intensive care unit utilization rate.

The DOH acknowledged on May 6, 2023 WHO's lifting of the public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on Covid-19. The WHO, on May 5, said that Covid-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, but it stressed that even though the emergency phase was over, the pandemic hasn’t finished, noting recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Treñas said with the city’s alert classification, “there is a need to realign its policies with WHO and national guidelines and further strengthen its measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

He mandated the optional use of face masks in both indoor and outdoor settings, except in healthcare institutions, medical transport vehicles, and public transportation by land, air, or sea.

Wearing of mask is strongly advised for the elderly, those with comorbidities, people who are immunocompromised, women who are pregnant, those who are unvaccinated, and people who are symptomatic.

Treñas said that depending on how quickly the Covid-19 scenario is evolving, his EO may be changed.

The EO took effect Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (SunStar Philippines)