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Herbosa: Mask mandate technically 'rescinded'

The requirement to wear face masks in areas such as public transportation and hospitals appeared to have been ''rescinded'' following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s announcement to end the COVID-19 emergency in the Philippines, Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said Saturday.

Marcos declared the wearing of face masks optional last October through Executive Order No. 7, with the exception of places like hospitals, ambulances, and public transportation on land, air, and sea.

On Friday, Marcos issued Proclamation No. 297, which states that ''all prior orders, memoranda, and issuances that are effective only during the State of Public Health Emergency shall be deemed withdrawn, revoked, or canceled and shall no longer be in effect.''

''Consequently, the requirement for wearing masks [on] public transportation and [in] other settings as specified in EO 7 is now considered rescinded from a technical standpoint,'' Herbosa said.

Herbosa also said that all established medical protocols are lifted, with the exception of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) pertaining to vaccines and the payment of outstanding dues for the Health Emergency Allowance.

''The validity period of the former shall be extended for an additional year, allowing for the depletion of remaining vaccine supplies,'' he said.

The Department of Health said the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) would convene for a final meeting to formally conclude the public health emergency, following which a comprehensive report would be prepared.

''This report will encapsulate the tireless efforts and dedication of the IATF, the medical frontliners, and the entire government in combating the challenges posed by the pandemic,'' it said. —VBL, GMA Integrated News