Wearing masks now mandatory
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said the call was part of the government’s intensified efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Walter Bollozos
Wearing masks now mandatory
Ramon Efren Lazaro, Emmanuel Tupas, Romina Cabrera, Ralph Edwin Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — For better protection against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Malacañang ordered yesterday all those living in areas under enhanced community quarantine to wear face masks or other forms of protective equipment when they go out to buy essential items.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said the call was part of the government’s intensified efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition to the strict home quarantine and social distancing policies, Nograles enjoined the public to follow the guidelines on the wearing of face masks. Local government units are tasked to make sure that their constituents will follow the protection measure.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has warned citizens that people caught not wearing face masks in public would be accosted.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said they would immediately implement the mandatory wearing of face masks for people who step outside of their house.

Año said that the new measure will apply to everyone who are given exemptions from the lockdown, including those who have quarantine passes to buy groceries in the market.

According to Nograles, the measure was among those adopted by the IATF under Resolution No. 18, which “adopts the policy of mandatory wearing by all residents of face masks, earloop masks, indigenous, reusable or do-it-yourself masks, face shields, handkerchiefs or such other protective equipment that can effectively lessen the transmission of COVID-19, whenever allowed to go out of their residences pursuant to existing guidelines issued by the national government.”

“Concerned LGUs are hereby enjoined to issue the necessary executive order or ordinance to that effect and impose such penalties as may be appropriate,” he added.

Nograles reiterated the need for everyone to follow the measure to avoid the transmission of the virus.

“Allow me to stress that if we need to leave our homes, we need to wear masks. Even an improvised mask or handkerchief will do, as long as you have something to cover your mouth and nose,” he said.

Meanwhile, police arrested two persons who were caught selling allegedly overpriced face masks in Plaridel, Bulacan on Wednesday.

Bulacan police director Col. Lawrence Cajipe said Mico Cantero, 28, and Ralphy Evangelista, 30, were apprehended during an entrapment operation in Barangay Bulihan at around 8:25 p.m.

The police conducted the operation after receiving reports the suspects have been selling disposable face masks at P21 per piece, which is higher than the suggested retail price set by the government of P8 per piece.

The suspects yielded 280 packs with each pack containing 50 face masks worth P294,000.

Cajipe warned unscrupulous individuals who are taking advantage of the health crisis.

“We will not cease to go after the individuals and store owners who will engage in profiteering, overpricing and hoarding of medical supplies,” he said.

The Muntinlupa City council passed on Wednesday ordinance no. 2020-083, or the Mandatory Face Mask and Physical Distancing Ordinance.

Under the measure, every person is required to wear face masks at all times, especially when going outside of their residence.

The city would also distribute face masks to residents, the measure said, through the assistance of the barangay and other relevant local government offices.

Those who would not follow the directive for the first time would be asked to attend community service or awareness campaigns on the COVID-19, for at least three hours.

The second and subsequent offenses would prohibit the offender from leaving his or her residence during the remaining period of the enhanced community quarantine or any extension of the lockdown.

COVID-19 FACE MASK
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