Cebu City Shelves Mandatory Face Masks in 2022

It’s time to say goodbye to face masks in Cebu City.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama announced that face masks are now optional in open spaces within the city. Some residents of the Queen City of the South can rejoice knowing that they can walk the streets without having to wear a mask, while others are not so sure if it’s something to celebrate.

The ruling will only be on a trial period until the end of the year. The Cebu City government will automatically lift the policy in a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. 

After two years of uncertainty about whether the city would return to its normal state, tourism in Cebu is beginning to thrive, as business establishments open to the public and travel restrictions are lifted to welcome more tourists.  

That being said, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Citizens are still encouraged to practice social distancing and proper sanitization to lessen the risk of spreading the virus.

Here’s how we got to this point: 

THE LOCKDOWN

Cebu City closed its borders on March 28, 2020. The city government and its neighboring LGUs barricaded the roads, only allowing essential travel like going to work or buying groceries. 

Quarantine passes became mandatory for those who would be leaving their homes and a curfew was implemented at 10:00 in the evening. 

Public transportation like jeepneys and taxis temporarily ceased operations to follow social distancing protocols. Those who wanted to get out of their house had to use their own vehicles. 

Cycling became a popular mode of transportation in the city.

Others decided to dust up their bicycles (or buy one) so they could bike to work. As more people started using them, cycling became a common form of transportation, and an intense workout for some. 

Outdoor dining establishments have also gained more popularity during the pandemic.

Restaurants and malls adapted to the changes and considered opening outdoor dining areas. In fact, many al fresco dining establishments like food parks became more popular during this time.

VACCINATION IN CEBU CITY

Cebu City once recorded the highest number of COVID cases in the Philippines, but it has steadily decreased since the implementation of the vaccination program.  

Government officials made it their goal to ease the situation by reopening closed establishments and having them operate as vaccination centers, particularly in malls, hospitals, and even local village offices. 

More importantly, the vaccination program was for free so that more and more people could get vaccinated.

Cebu is currently recording single or double-digit cases per day, and is on Alert Level 1 – the lowest level recorded by the IATF. 

This classification allows more businesses and establishments to reopen after ceasing operations during the pandemic.  

Public transportation is also back in full swing, and closed-contact activities are allowed as long as you wear a mask. 

Many Cebu City tourist spots have reopened, and many events postponed due to the pandemic have finally returned in 2022. 

CEBU CITY UNMASKED

Rama approved the ruling months after Provincial Governor Gwendolyn Garcia approved the optional use of face masks in Cebu province

While you may now walk the streets without a face mask, you are still required to wear one at medical facilities. Businesses also have the discretion to require face masks when inside their premises. 

As face-to-face classes resume, face masks are also said to be optional for students. It will be the discretion of the teachers and parents whether or not they will keep them on. 

In line with this, Mandaue City is planning to lift its face mask policy very soon. 

It has been a long time coming for the citizens of Cebu City. After two long years, they can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. This new ruling may not remove all the strict guidelines that were implemented, but it is still a good development, highlighting the drastic improvement of the city. 

There is still a need to be vigilant as the coronavirus is still present. We need to follow safety protocols, such as wearing masks in enclosed spaces and practicing social distancing.

While we now have the luxury of walking the streets without a mask, it is still our responsibility to prevent a possible resurgence.

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