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Requiring face shields for cyclists 'impractical and dangerous' - Fortun

By Bim Santos Published Dec 18, 2020 1:02 am Updated Dec 18, 2020 9:57 am

Requiring cyclists to wear face shields is not only “impractical” but also dangerous according to a prominent lawyer who is a cycling advocate.

Atty. Raymond Fortun, a moderator of the Pinoy Road Bikers Facebook page, said the wisdom of the decision by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) to mandate wearing of face shields for those leaving their homes cannot be doubted, as it aims to reduce spikes in COVID-19 infection during the Christmas season.

“The use of face shields should be limited, however, to places where there would be an imminent close contact with others during the holiday season,” Fortun said.

These places, Fortun said, include malls, groceries and supermarkets, public markets, parks and plazas, churches and other enclosed places.

Atty. Raymond Fortun is a moderator of the Facebook cycling forum Pinoy Road Bikers Inc., which currently has more than 68,000 members

“In all other instances, the social distancing protocols already in place, such as the mandatory use of facemasks and regular washing/disinfection of hands and contact tracing are sufficient,” said Fortun. “The government must merely review the common ways by which the virus is acquired and spread, and increase public awareness therein.”

Fortun noted that most current face shields are of flimsy and non-rigid construction built for people who are walking, not travelling with speed. 

The face shields catch unnecessary glare, fog up and create blind spots. To require cyclists to use them may create more harm than good.

“The face shields catch unnecessary glare, fog up and create blind spots. To require cyclists to use them may create more harm than good,” said Fortun. “Lastly, joggers and cyclists wearing masks would have difficulty in breathing and may cause more health problems; requiring masks and face shields aggravates the health concerns.”

The World Health Organization has said that people should not use masks while exercising as it may impede breathing and instead said social distancing should just be observed.

“Even when you’re in an area of COVID-19 transmission, masks should not be worn during vigorous physical activity because of the risk of reducing your breathing capacity. No matter how intensely you exercise, keep at least 1 metre away from others, and if you’re indoors, make sure there is adequate ventilation,” the WHO said in a Dec. 1 advisory.

Even when you’re in an area of COVID-19 transmission, masks should not be worn during vigorous physical activity because of the risk of reducing your breathing capacity.

Fortun also noted that some local government units also “recognize the impracticability and safety issues of requiring cyclists and cycling commuters to wear face shields while biking.”

“Las Piñas, Taguig and Pasig City have responded to their citizens’ queries that the mandatory use of face shields in public will not be applicable to those inside privately owned vehicles, cyclists and motorcyclists.  Mandaluyong City passed an Ordinance (Ordinance No. 799, s.2020) as early as September 2020, providing that those on board privately-owned vehicles, including bicycles, e-bikes, motorcycles, tricycles, e-trikes and government service vehicles are not covered by the mandatory wearing of face shields,” Fortun said.

(Thumbnail and banner photo AFP/Ted Aljibe)