Alert Level 1 to still require wearing of face masks --- Nograles

The government has no plan to drop the mandatory use of face masks even if the country will be placed under the least restrictive Alert Level 1, Malacañang said.

People wearing face masks cross a busy intersection in Iloilo City, which now has 17 cases of COVID-19’s Omicron variant. (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

"Nandyan pa rin po iyong mask, hindi naman mawawala iyong mask under Alert Level 1, under our guidelines (The wearing of face masks will remain. The use of face masks will still be required under Alert Level 1 based on our guidelines)," Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said.

According to Nograles, only restrictions on seating and venue capacities would be scrapped under Alert Level 1.

However, Nograles said establishments should ensure that minimum health protocols--including physical distancing--are being followed at all times.

"Kailangan ng (There is a need for) self-regulation, self-policing in establishments themselves," he said.

"If they are compliant with the standards for safety seal, alam nila kung ano iyong mga (they should know the) dos and don'ts within the establishment," Nograles added.

The Cabinet secretary said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is now finalizing the "roadmap to Alert Level 1" for areas that would meet the conditions for the de-escalation of COVID alert level.

"A big part of that roadmap to Level 1 has to do a lot with compliance of the establishments to the minimum public health standards within their own establishments," Nograles said.

The IATF earlier decided to keep Metro Manila under Alert Level 2 while it placed seven other areas under Alert Level 3 from Feb. 16 to 28, 2022.

These seven areas are Iloilo City, Davao de Oro, Iloilo Province, Guimaras, Zamboanga City, Davao Occidental, and South Cotabato.