The Philippines is set to scrap most remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including the mandatory use of face masks in public settings, in order to better align its policies with other ASEAN nations.
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco announced the plans – which were decided during a Cabinet meeting at Malacañan Palace – on Tuesday with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr expected to issue an Executive Order allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in indoor and other public spaces.
However, it has not yet been announced exactly when the order will be issued.
“As a result of the Cabinet meeting this morning, it was agreed that the President will be issuing an executive order, per the IATF recommendation, to make indoor mask wearing also voluntary all over the Philippines, with few exceptions,” Frasco said.
“Generally, the direction of the Marcos administration is to lift the remainder of travel restrictions into the Philippines, and that includes easing of our mask mandates to allow our country to be at par with our ASEAN neighbors who have long liberalized the mask mandates.”
Masks will still be required on public transport and at medical facilities, while the elderly and unvaccinated will still be encouraged to wear masks.
Also set to be scrapped is a requirement for unvaccinated travellers to provide a negative PCR test result prior to departure, while passengers will be allowed to fill in their eArrival cards upon arrival into the Philippines.
Currently, eArrivals cards must be filled out and shown prior to boarding any flight to the Philippines.
Senator Grace Poe said loosening of the mask mandate would provide yet another boost to the local economy.
“Loosening the mask mandate and regulations on the entry of tourists will help generate economic activities, foremost among them is providing jobs to our people,” she said.