Duterte scraps face shield requirement for areas under low COVID-19 alert level

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Duterte scraps face shield requirement for areas under low COVID-19 alert level
This undated photo shows passengers at a public transportation wearing face masks and face shields, which had been made mandatory as a preventive measure against the COVID-19
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday approved the pandemic task force's recommendation to ease national policy on the use of face shields. 

Per a memo signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea earlier this day, the following protocols on face shields will be implemented immediately: 

  • Mandatory use of face shields for areas under Alert Level 5 and granular lockdowns
  • For areas under Alert Level 4, local government units and private establishments are given discretion to mandate use of face shields 
  • Face shields are no longer required, to be worn on a voluntary basis for areas under Alert Levels 3, 2, and 1 

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

Malacañang last Friday said members of the pandemic task force had already agreed on new face shield rules but were waiting for Duterte's approval.

The government's face shield policy has long been the subject of scrutiny and criticism over its seeming lack of scientific basis. The health department insists, however, that the policy is guided by science and expert medical opinion. 

Several local government units have preempted the national government, doing away with face shield requirements outside of hospitals and clinics as early as last week.

The City of Manila's diversion from national policy, in particular, sparked debate between the Palace and LGUs over who has the final say on public health measures. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque previously argued during a public briefing that Mayor Isko Moreno's order was "null and void" due to a standing requirement from the national pandemic task force to retain the mandatory use of face shields in indoor and crowded areas.

Moreno, however, stood by his relaxed face shield policy, challenging Malacañang to take the issue to court. 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas waded into the debate last Thursday, reminding Roque that "the Local Government Code provides that local governments have local autonomy,” disputing the latter's "theory that all LGUs must follow the chain of command." 

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