The quick answer is yes. But we’ll get to that later.
First, let’s discuss the need to wear a mask inside your car. According to medical experts, you don’t really need to do it if you’re driving solo or with your family (who presumably shares the same household with you). The thinking behind this is that since you interact with the same people at home—where you don’t wear a mask at all—the same practice should apply inside your car. That said, you should always carry a face mask and a bottle of sanitizer inside the vehicle for when you need to step out for any reason (such as when buying stuff at a store or filling up at a gas station).
If you do need to wear a mask while driving, using the right one is crucial. In April, a driver in New Jersey crashed his car and blamed it on the tight-fitting N95 mask he was wearing. While it is unknown whether the patient had already been experiencing breathing difficulties to begin with, doctors say that the highly restrictive N95 mask may alter your blood chemistry, which could severely affect your consciousness if you wear the mask for a long time. The solution is to don a less restrictive surgical or cloth mask. However, if you feel like a mask will impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle, just don’t drive at all.
So now the question: Can one go out and drive without wearing a mask? Unfortunately, no. According to the Land Transportation Office’s Memorandum Circular No. 2020-2185, drivers and passengers of private and government vehicles are required to wear face masks at all times. Failure to comply carries fines similar to that of reckless driving: P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, and P10,000 for subsequent offenses along with the suspension of your driver’s license for at least three months.
Let’s just comply, then, to avoid any hassle out there.
UPDATE: The Department of Transportation has sent a clarification. “In order to observe proper health and safety protocols, everyone is enjoined to wear face masks inside their vehicles, whether public or private. But, as clarified by LTO, this does not apply to individuals driving their private vehicles alone. However, if the private individual has passengers with him inside the vehicle, wearing a face mask is mandatory.”