The government ordered the public to wear face masks and face shields whenever they go out of their houses to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced the measure on Tuesday, a day after the policy-making Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Previously, the government only required the public to wear face masks and face shields inside public vehicles and establishments.
Last week, OCTA Research Group said a post-holiday COVID-19 surge could be prevented through strict enforcement of discipline and health protocols.
“While some experts see the post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases in the country as inevitable, we disagree,” the group said.
“In our view, a substantial relaxation of restrictions and behavior during this season may result in exponential increases in transmission,” they added.
The OCTA team also projected earlier that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines could hit 500,000 by the end of 2021.
Wearing of face mask, face shield required in all public areas
“Kahit po kayo ay naka-mask at naka-face shield pero kayo naman ay pumupunta sa matataong lugar na halos dikit-dikit na po kayo, maaari pa rin kayong mahawa,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire warned.
Vergeire further explained that the Inter-Agency Task Force, the government’s policy-making body on COVID-19 response, prohibits “mass gathering” because the risk of transmission is very high in crowded places.
Instead, the DOH urges the public to just shop online for the gifts they will give to their loved ones during the holidays to avoid COVID-19 transmission.
According to Vergeire, DOH understands the public’s excitement about Christmas shopping and celebrating holiday traditions. However, a possible surge of infections could occur as people crowd in shopping malls and commercial districts.