Calls to lift the mandatory wearing face shields have been gaining ground on social media after Manila Mayor Isko Moreno argued against the requirement.
The Department of Health said face shields, aside from face masks, add another layer of protection against COVID-19. Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH might consider easing face cover requirements when it sees a significant decline in daily COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday, Health Usec. Leopoldo Vega, who is also the country's treatment czar, said face shields may no longer be necessary when outdoors, when the risk of virus transmission is low. The DOH has yet to clarify if his statement signalled a change in policy.
According to the implementing guidelines on the use of full-coverage face shields dated January 2021, face shields, in addition to face masks, should be worn at all times in these areas:
- enclosed public spaces
- commercial establishments such as but not limited to food establishments, malls, and public markets
- places of worship
- other public spaces wherein one meter physical distancing is not possible and there is a gathering of more than 10 people at the same venue at the same time
Who are exempted?
The joint memorandum circular also identified the individuals exempted from wearing face shields:
- newborn and children below two years old
- individuals wearing goggles or other barriers for eye protection in their current line of work
- individuals who are unable to remove face shields on their own -- including those who are incapacitated, unconscious, or with medical conditions
- individuals engaging in any form of health-enhancing physical activities or sports provided that physical distancing of two meters in open spaces and three meters in enclosed spaces is observed
- individuals whose safety or ability to work would be seriously and adversely affected by visual or respiratory impairment due to the use of a face shield
- individuals engaged in strenuous activities or work (ex. construction or logistics), fine worksmanship (ex. seamstresses), operation of transportation vehicles (i.e. when driving), and active transport
- passengers of motor vehicles wearing helmets with full-face visors while in transit
- individuals who are eating and drinking in public spaces