Mask-wearing now optional in private workplaces, public schools
Private workers may now choose to wear face masks or not in the office, based on a memo from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
According to DOLE's Labor Advisory No. 22—in compliance with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s Executive Order No. 7 signed Oct. 28—wearing of face masks shall be voluntary, except in:
- Healthcare facilities (clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, dialysis clinics);
- Medical transport vehicles (ambulance, paramedic rescue vehicles); and
- Public transportation (land, air, sea).
Still, employers may implement their respective face mask policies as they see fit, DOLE noted.
"Elderly, immunocompromised, unvaccinated, symptomatic individuals, individuals with comorbidities, and pregnant women are highly encouraged to wear face masks," the agency also said in its memo, akin to Marcos's EO No. 7.
The Department of Education also issued a similar order on Nov. 1, giving students in public schools the freedom to wear face masks or not in the campus. DepEd's announcement came a day before the resumption of face-to-face classes following the Undas break.
The Department of Health, meanwhile, previously warned that optional masking could increase daily COVID-19 infections by up to 18,000 by the end of the year. The health agency continues to urge the public to wear face masks in public spaces despite becoming optional already.