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PH gov’t lifts use of face shield in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Nov 16, 2021 10:37 am Updated Nov 16, 2021 10:52 am

President Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to ease the mandatory face shield rule, which was first implemented in December 2020.

In the memorandum released by the Malacañang on Monday, Nov. 15, protocols on the use of face shields in areas under different alert levels will be implemented immediately.

• For areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3, the use of face shields is voluntary.

• Those under Alert Level 4, local government units (LGUs) and private establishments are given discretion to mandate the use of face shields.

• The use of face shields is mandatory for areas under Alert Level 5 and granular lockdowns.

"The above protocols are without prejudice to the continuing mandatory use of face shields in medical and quarantine facility settings, and the required use thereof by healthcare workers in healthcare settings," the memorandum reads.

On Nov. 8, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said Metro Manila mayors will be recommending to relax their face shield policy. Manila and Muntinlupa City were among the first ones to scrap their face shield mandate, while a number of LGUs also followed suit, including Iloilo City, Tarlac, Cebu and Davao.

On Nov. 5, the Department of Health said it is in favor of easing the use of the face shields in areas with low COVID-19 transmission but it needs more evidence to complete its recommendation to the IATF.

The DOH also said it is safe to forego the use of face shields, including in cinemas as long as minimum health standards and protocols are observed. This is following the relaxation of community quarantine restrictions after the country has seen a decline in its daily COVID-19 cases.

It was on Dec. 14, 2020 when the IATF first mandated the use of face shields on top of face masks whenever individuals go out of their residence, in an effort to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The Philippines is reportedly the only country in the world that mandated the use of face shields during the pandemic.

The mandate had sparked debates on whether the use of face shields were effective or not.

In September 2021, President Duterte first announced lifting the mandatory use of face shields, except in closed facilities like hospitals, crowded areas or rooms, and where there is close contact with other people.

In June 21, President Duterte initially announced that use of face shields is no longer mandatory. But only a few hours later, Malacañang announced that face shields are still required both indoors and outdoors. This was following the advice of health experts and in view of the highly transmissible Delta variant detection in the country.