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By  Consuelo Marquez 

It’s final. It is now required for both drivers and their passengers to wear face masks even inside private vehicles, and regardless if they are from the same household, the government said on Friday.

“When the driver is with passenger/s, it is mandatory for all individuals inside the vehicle to properly wear a face mask, regardless if they are from the same household,” the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a joint statement.

The DOTr and DOH, meanwhile, said only a driver traveling alone may remove his or her face mask while inside the vehicle.

On the other hand, passengers riding public transportation have long been required to use face masks and face shields.

The latest directive came amid calls on the government to reconsider.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) earlier said that motorists whose passengers who will be apprehended for not wearing face masks inside their vehicles will not be slapped with fines but will only be reminded to follow the minimum public health standards.

Not wearing face masks while driving with passengers could now be considered an instance of “reckless driving,” LTO Law Enforcement Service Acting Director Clarence Guinto said.

DOH and DOTr said they will enforce the face mask guidelines as per the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

In a previous press briefing, the Land Transportation Office said they will not issue tickets to errant motorists who will fail to follow the mandatory wearing of face masks.

As of Thursday, Philippines documented a total of 531,699 Covid-19 infections including 32,775 active cases, 10,997 fatalities and 487,927 recoveries.

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