Cebu province dropped the face mask requirement in outdoor settings and making it optional in well-ventilated and open spaces, its governor said Thursday.
It's a "necessary step towards the new normal," said Governor Gwendolyn Garcia in an executive order, where she cited the lifting of mask mandates outdoors in other countries like Singapore.
Those who are in crowded outdoor areas are encouraged to wear their masks, while persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms are required to wear a mask at all times when leaving their homes, according to the order.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government said Friday it doesn't recognize the relaxed rules in Cebu, which runs counter to national policy.
"The Philippine National Police will continue to confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary, all violators of IATF guidelines and MPHS (minimum public health standards) in the province of Cebu," said Sec. Eduardo Año in a statement.
The only instances individuals can remove their face masks are when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities, Año said.
Wearing of face masks continue to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, including monkeypox should it reach the Philippines, the Department of Health said Thursday.
"The COVID-19 virus is still present and the pandemic is not yet over. Individuals can still catch the virus, most especially for our vulnerable population. Let's be responsible and do our part," DOH told reporters.