Governor Gwen Garcia stands by Cebu’s mask-optional rule when outdoors

Looks like the people of Cebu may take off their masks outdoors as they so please after Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia stood by the province’s executive order of making face masks optional while in open outdoor spaces, warning that arresting those who go mask-less while outdoors may be “illegal.”

The governor remained firm on the executive order, even as interior secretary Eduardo Año said that the police will continue to apprehend people not wearing masks as a violation of the national guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Año added that the agency will not recognize Garcia’s executive order.

Yet Garcia asserted that “the order stays,” adding that not wearing face masks outdoors is not against any local ordinance in Cebu. “[But] if the police would be apprehending these people, they might be accused of illegal arrest.”

In an interview with ANC, the governor elaborated, “I think, perhaps, Secretary Año was not fully informed of the contents of Executive Order No. 16. It merely states that in open, well-ventilated areas, the use of masks shall be optional.”

The governor clarified in an earlier press conference that use of face masks has only been made optional and not prohibited, adding that people who still wish to wear masks in well-ventilated spaces may do so.

IATF guidelines currently only allow masks to be taken off during certain instances such as when eating or doing sports and activities in well-ventilated spaces, Año said.

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