Philippine tourism chief pushes for removal of outdoor mask mandate

In order to jumpstart tourism recovery in the Philippines, Philippine tourism secretary Christina Garcia Frasco has emphasised the urgent need for the government to adapt to prevailing global health practices – and is backing the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’s (IATF-EID) recommendation to make mask-wearing optional for outdoors.

The IATF-EID has recommended that mask-wearing outdoors is made voluntary across the country, while senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to continue wearing masks.

The removal of the outdoor mask mandate could help jumpstart tourism recovery in the Philippines

“With the recent improvement of the global tourism landscape as a result of immunisation, countries around the world have been instituting various measures such as the reopening of international borders, and relaxation of health and safety protocols and requirements, resulting in an immediate positive economic impact of these countries and faster recovery of their respective portfolios,” she said in a statement.

She noted that based on a comparative analysis of mask mandates, Covid-19 incidence, and tourist arrivals of the Top 5 ASEAN countries comprising Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, more liberal mask mandates did not appear to cause an uptick in Covid-19 cases.

She added that aside from ASEAN countries, the Philippines’ key markets in Asia and other parts of the world (Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong) have also started to lift mask mandates.

Citing the province of Cebu as a model in liberalising mask mandates since June 8, she stated that the province has maintained its risk classification at low levels.

Expressing optimism for the country’s tourism industry, Frasco said lifting the mask mandate “will give the Philippine Tourism Industry a better chance to regain its vibrant and booming operations”.

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