So Are Face Shields Required or Not? We Try to Investigate

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The Philippines is probably the only country in the world that requires people to wear face shields. According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, studies have shown that face shields, when used with masks and social distancing, offer “greater than 95% protection.”

But there has been a debate going on among public officials whether to require people to wear them. Some say we should keep wearing them, others say we need to drop it. So is it time to drop it and just stick to wearing face masks outdoors? Who do we believe?

Here’s a brief timeline of what’s been happening:

June 2, 2021

Earlier this month, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said, “Ang face shield ay dapat ipatigil nang i-require sa general population at gamitin na lamang sa ospital upang makabawas sa gastusin at intindihin ng taumbayan.” [“Face shields must not be required for the general population and must only be used in hospitals so people have less to spend on or worry about.”]

He added, “Tayo na lang yata sa buong mundo ang nag-rerequire ng face shield sa kalsada. Dapat pag-isipan uli ito… We should adjust.” [We are probably the only country to require face shields in public. We should rethink this… We should adjust.”]

June 3, 2021

However, the Departments of Health and Interior and Local Government don’t agree.

According to Duque, “Hindi pa pwedeng tanggalin ang face shield policy for now when our two-dose vaccination coverage is a little over 2% due to still inadequate vaccine supply.” [“We still can’t remove the face shield policy for now when our two-dose vaccination coverage is a little over 2% due to still inadequate vaccine supply.”]

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said, “For me, it’s not yet time na i-drop natin ‘yung paggamit ng face shields, because we are still in a pandemic.” [“For me, it’s not yet time to drop the use of face shields, because we are still in a pandemic.”]

June 16, 2021

In a Laging Handa public briefing, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said that face shields can be removed in public. He said, “Ang face shields, kailangan naman talaga ‘yan pag nasa indoor ka, nasa mall ka, or kapag may interaction ka face-to-face inside.” [“Face shields are needed when you’re indoor, in a mall, or you have a face-to-face interaction inside.”]

Vega added, “Pero kapag nasa outside naman kasi, alam naman natin na the risk of transmission is very low lalung lalo na kapag naglalakad ka lang sa kalye o magta-trabaho ka kasi maka-affect ‘yung moist (moisture) nito so pwede ninyo tanggalin ‘yan.” [“But if you’re outside, we know that the risk of transmission is very low, especially if you’re just walking in the street or working because the moisture can affect you so you can remove it.”]

June 17, 2021

Senate President Vicente Sotto III tweeted that President Rodrigo Duterte agreed that face shields aren’t always required. He said, “Last night, the President agreed that face shields should only be used in hospitals. Allowed us to remove ours! Attn DOH!”

This was confirmed by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who said, “The President acknowledged that [there] were probably one of a very few countries that use them and said that it [is] more needed in situations such as hospitals or high-risk areas and jobs.” He, however, added that this was a private conversation. Zubiri said, “this was an off-the-cuff discussion and not officially discussed on stage or with the public.”

On the same day, however, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, “While waiting for the President’s decision on the matter, the existing policy on the use of face shields remains in effect.”

That means face shields are required in hospitals, schools, workplaces, commercial establishments (such as but not limited to food establishments, malls, and public markets), public transport and terminals, and places of worship.

So are face shields required or not? We’re just going with the latest statement on the matter, coming from Roque.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below!

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