Palace: Not unreasonable to require face masks, shields at work
A jeepney passenger wears a face shield over a surgical mask in Ba- guio City on Aug. 5, 2020.
The STAR/Andy Zapata Jr.
Palace: Not unreasonable to require face masks, shields at work
Alexis Romero ( - September 28, 2020 - 5:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday stood by the requirement to wear face masks and face shields in work places, saying it would prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Some business groups have urged the government to exempt factory and office workers from wearing face masks and face shields, saying it could affect the workers' vision, physical safety and productivity.

In a letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the groups noted that workers in construction and manufacturing industries like electronics and automotive work with minute parts and sensitive production lines. They argued that office movements are controlled and guided by safety protocols like washing of hands, checking of temperature, and sanitizing of footwear.

But presidential spokesman Harry Roque insisted that the requirement is "not unreasonable."

"You know, it has been proven by science that the wearing of face shields can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If I'm not mistaken, the wearing of face (masks) is 94 percent effective in preventing COVID while face shields provide an additional three percent, so 97 percent protection is provided to the people," Roque said at a press briefing.

WHO recommends face masks

According to the World Health Organization, face masks should be used "as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives."

Aside from wearing face masks, the WHO advises maintaining physical distance of at least one meter, frequent handwashing, and avoiding touching the mask and one's face.

The WHO says that medical-grade face masks are required for health workers, those taking care of possible COVID-19 cases at home or at an isolation facility, and those who are more susceptible to the disease like the elderly.

"For areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least 1 metre is not possible — such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments — WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks," it also says.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that "at this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer." 

"There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control," the US CDC says, which notes that their primary use is for eye protection.

"Considering that the price of face shields has fallen, the requirement of IATF is not unreasonable," Roque added.

The business groups that expressed concern over the requirement include the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Silk Road International Chamber of Commerce, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, and the Philippine Exporters Confederation. The government required the wearing of face masks and face shields in work places last month.

Roque also urged businesses that have problems complying with the requirement to have isolation rooms for every 200 employees to coordinate with local governments.  

"If the problem is space, employers should coordinate with local governments who can give them space. When it comes to responsibility, the fight against COVID-19 is a shared responsibility," the Palace spokesman said.

"We cannot say that employers who own workplaces with COVID-19 transmission do not have responsibilities," he added.

Roque said under the Labor Code, all employers are required to have clinics.

"During a pandemic, it is not unreasonable to require employers (to identify isolation spaces) because this fight is a shared responsibility," he added.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with