Davao City Council passes ordinance penalizing non-wearing of face masks in public

Published July 9, 2020, 11:03 AM

by Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – The City Council of Davao has passed an ordinance penalizing the non-wearing of face masks in public places during the community quarantine or until after the lifting of the state of public health emergency as a precautionary measure to control and prevent the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

As Davao City shifts from General Community Quarantine to Modified General Community Quarantine effective July 1, authorities are still reminding to strictly observe health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of facemask when in public places (Keith Bacongco/ MANILA BULLETI)

The ordinance, authored by 3rd District Councilor Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz, requires that face masks must be worn in public places, which include schools; workplaces; government facilities; establishments that provide food and drinks, accommodation, merchandise, spas, professional services, salons, barbershops, entertainment or other services; and outdoor spaces, including playgrounds, sports ground or centers, church grounds, health/hospital compounds, transportation terminals, market, parks, resorts, walkways/sideways, entrance ways, and waiting areas.

Ortiz is the chairman of the Committee on Tourism of the City Council of Davao.

Other than surgical and N95 masks, the local government permits the use of other types of protective devices, firmly fastened over the face and covering the nose, mouth, and chin, which include, among others, cloth masks, bandanas, and washable masks.

Under the ordinance, P500 will be meted for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 or one-month imprisonment or both for the third offense.

The agencies tasked to implement the ordinance are the Davao City Police Office, Task Force Davao, City Health Office, barangay officials, and other law enforcers and city officials to be determined by the City Mayor.

Mayor Sara Duterte had called for an ordinance to be passed after receiving complaints that some customers of local businesses will remove their face masks after entering establishments.

“We received reports that once they are inside these establishments, they would no longer wear facemasks as if once they are inside, the virus is no longer there. We remind everyone that the virus is everywhere, and we have asymptomatic (cases), meaning they are carriers but they don’t manifest symptoms such as fever, cough, and colds,” Duterte said over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5).

“As a mayor, I can write laws without penalties. That is one of the limitations of my law-making power. The only one that can draft law with penalties is the local councilor. So, we need an ordinance,” he said.

With the shift to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) last July 1, Duterte said hotels and similar establishments are allowed to open at 50-percent capacity.

But she added the local government has resolved to allow bars and other entertainment venues to operate at 25-percent capacity as there have been conflicting provisions in the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, updated as of June 25, with respect to allowing establishments under category 4 to reopen at 50 percent capacity on one hand, and prohibiting “leisure, amusement, or entertainment” activities on the other hand.

Duterte said health experts advised the wearing of face masks in public places to lower the chances of getting infected with the highly contagious coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Duterte told Dabawenyos to keep wearing face masks inside establishments, except when they drink or eat.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), majority of the transmissions are through patients with symptoms but the actual rates of the asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 have yet to be known.

She said non-wearing of masks will increase the chances of contracting the infection.

“Remember what the doctor said that if both of us would wear face masks, the risk of transmission is very low as compared to when one of us does not wear a face mask. So, we need to wear our face masks wherever we go. Of course, it’s understandable that you have to remove it when we drink coffee or start to eat,” she said.