IATF tightens face mask rule in public, private venues despite low COVID case count

Published November 26, 2021, 2:10 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has fully authorized public and private establishments to refuse individuals who don’t follow minimum public health standards (MPHS), particularly the wearing of face masks.


Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the IATF came out with this resolution despite the continued downtrend in fresh daily cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Ang mahigpit na pagpapatupad ng [MPHS] tulad ng tamang pagsuot ng face masks, inatasan ang mga pampubliko at pribadong mga establisyimento na tiyakin ang pagpapatupad nito kasama na doon sa mga bata, mga minors (Public and private establishments have been directed to strictly implement MPHS on those entering the establishments, including kids, minors),” Nograles said in virtual press conference Friday, Nov. 26.

“Mayroon pong authority ang establishments na doon sa hindi nagsusuot ng face mask, or hindi kaya magsuot ng face mask–kabilang na po dito yung mga menor de edad, ay mayroon po silang authority na hindi po papasukin sa kanilang establisyimento (The establishments have the authority to deny entry to those unwilling or unable to wear face masks, including minors),” he said.

“Kami po ay nananawagan sa mga (We appeal to the) LGUs (local government units) to ensure that this is strictly being enforced,” Nograles added.

The pandemic task force had earlier relaxed the rules on face shields, which were previously used in tandem with face masks. A lot of Filipinos found this combination cumbersome.

From upwards of 20,000 cases in August and September, daily new cases of COVID-19 have plummeted to the 700 to 1,000-mark. In fact, the Philippines recorded fewer than 1,000 new cases last Wednesday, and again on Thursday.

Authorities have credited this to its continuous rollout of life-saving COVID vaccines. Coupled with the more flexible Alert Level System (ALS), this has allowed commercial establishments to operate as close as they could to the old normal.

Despite the promising numbers in the fight against the deadly disease, President Duterte told Filipinos earlier this month that the mandatory use of face masks will stay.