Lifting of Face Shield Policy: How to Stay Safe with Mask Alone?

17 November 2021
eyewear with detachable face shield white min

To stop the spread of Covid-19, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF-EID enacted Resolution 88 on December 14, 2020, requiring everyone to wear full-coverage face shields on top of face masks in all public locations.


The user's face is protected by a face shield, either partly or entirely, in the event of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country. It has become necessary in the Philippines starting December 2020 to wear a face shield and a mask while leaving one's house until November 2021.


Many groups and individuals complained about it during the face shield implementation, doubting the efficacy of wearing face shields as protection against COVID-19. The World Health Organization didn't cite anything about it. Aside from this, people, especially commuters, find it inconvenient, especially during hot and humid weather.


The spokesman for the Philippine Government, Harry Roque, admitted that he wishes to abolish the face shield policy in the country but urged local government units (LGUs) to respect President Rodrigo Duterte and abide by the IATF's current protocols while waiting for the decision.


IATF, headed by the President and whose spokesman is Roque, met to decide about the usage of face shields throughout the country. It is also widely noted that the Philippines is the only nation in the world that requires its citizens to wear face shields.


The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases' Resolution 149

On Monday, November 15, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the Philippine government would no longer mandate face shields in regions with Alert Levels 1 to 3, over a year after it was initially introduced.


Due to the decision reached by the government's pandemic task force on Monday, November 15, the use of face shields is now "optional" in locations with Alert Levels 1 to 3, which includes Metro Manila. It is up to local governments and private businesses to enforce face shield usage in regions with an Alert Level 4 designation.


Catanduanes is the only region of the country that is now on Alert Level 4 for the period of November 17-30. On the other hand, the IATF resolution said that face shields must be used in communal settings at Alert Level 5 and granular lockdowns.


Weeks before this, many members of the IATF have previously expressed support for the removal of the face shield regulation. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Chief Implementer Secretary of the National Action Plan on COVID-19, affirmed that the majority of the IATF members supported making face shields optional and mandating them exclusively in hospitals and high-risk regions.


The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) passed Resolution 149 on Thursday, November 18, 2021, ratifying the advice of its technical working group to enable enterprises and employers to exercise their discretion in the usage of face shields.


Face shields not required in Manila

Officially effective on November 8, 2021, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno highlighted the pending city council evaluation on the usage of face shields in Manila's Executive Order number 42, series of 2021 that says:


"Now, therefore, I, Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, City Mayor of Manila, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law do hereby order that, pending the review by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the city ordinance on the matter, the wearing of face shields in the City of Manila is non-mandatory except in hospital setting, medical clinics, and other medical facilities, which shall remain to be mandatory."


The Interior Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya indicated that Eduardo Año, the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, would suggest lowering face shields in the next meeting of the government's anti-COVID-19 working team, which took place on November 7.


As stated by Malaya, the Department of the Interior and Local Government would suggest to local governments that face shields should be progressively lifted, except in medical contexts.


In his Executive Order, Moreno also referred to Año's statement on using face shields. The Mayor of Manila also stated the de-escalation of Metro Manila's granular lockdown to Alert Level 2, announcing that the "non-mandatory" use of face shields would be allowed except for medical and hospital institutions inside the city.

Also, in a conference conducted on November 8, Metro Manila mayors and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos decided to ban the usage of face shields in medical settings such as hospitals in the cities within the National Capital Region.


Other local government units that lifted the face shield policy

Aside from the City of Manila, other local government units changed their face shield policies before the resolution that the IATF made.


Among the first to suspend the face shield regulations were Iloilo City and the City of Davao. Davao City, where President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's daughter Sara serves as a mayor, has made face shield usage optional in congested or confined settings. But, allowing private businesses and establishments the choice to still require face shield use inside their premises.


As a result, Cebu City followed suit, offering indoor and enclosed establishments the option of requiring or not wearing face shields inside their business premises. On the other hand, the Province of Cebu complied with the national government and no longer requires the usage of face shields outside.


How to stay protected without a face shield

The Department of Health or DOH says that the face shield acted like an extra layer of protection against the novel COVID-19 virus. With the wearing of face shields already lifted in different parts of the country, people should still keep wary be extra careful in observing the proper health and safety protocol against the virus.


One of the things you can do is wear a double mask. It's somehow convenient for us that we don't have to bring or wear a face shield with us, but you must wear a mask even when doing sports. Wearing a double mask also means having double protection from the virus.


Apart from this, make sure to follow the social distancing of at least 1 meter and avoid crowded places. It's also essential to keep up with the proper hygiene and sanitation by regularly washing your hands.


In the event that you are outside, make sure to bring a bottle of alcohol with you to keep yourself safe from the virus.


With the holidays coming and more people going outdoors, ensure that you celebrate the yuletide season healthy and safely with your whole family!


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