DOLE releases guidelines on optional use of face mask at workplace
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday released the guidelines on the voluntary use of face masks inside workplaces.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier lifted the mandatory use of face masks indoors and outdoors through Executive Order (EO) No. 7.
Hence, DOLE, through Labor Advisory No. 22, declared that wearing face masks in all workplaces in the private sector is now voluntary.
DOLE, however, listed the following exceptions:
- Healthcare facilities, including, but not limited to, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics;
- Medical transport vehicles, such as ambulance and paramedic rescue vehicles;
- Public transportation by land, air, or sea.
Similar to EO No. 7, DOLE also encouraged all the elderly, immunocompromised, unvaccinated, and symptomatic individuals, individuals with comorbidities, and pregnant women to continue wearing a face mask.
“Employers and their workers have a shared responsibility to ensure safe and healthful working conditions in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended, Republic Act No. 11058, and minimum public health standards,” the DOLE advisory read.
Employers, however, may still implement a policy requiring the wearing of face masks if they wish to do so, provided that it takes into account “among others, the hazards and risks (e.g., enclosed space and poor ventilation), industry requirements (e.g., food safety), and incidence of other communicable diseases (e.g., flu and tuberculosis), including measures to address non-compliance thereto pursuant to the existing company policy, rules, and regulations.”
This came amid the health department’s recent detection of the XBB Omicron subvariant and XBC variant of COVID-19.
Both are believed to be highly immune-evasive, with the XBB tagged as the main driving force for the recent COVID-19 surge in Singapore, and the XBC being a combination of the BA.2 sublineage of the Omicron and Delta variants.
The DOH also earlier warned that virus transmission is likely to increase especially after the observance of “Undas,” and the upcoming Christmas holidays.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.
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