Palace: Face shields still voluntary but recommended

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace: Face shields still voluntary but recommended
Commuters sport face shields as they walk past an LRT Line 1 coach with mask and face shield promotional ads in Manila on Wednesday (November 3, 2021).
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The policy on the use of face shields stays for now but Malacañang is encouraging the public to wear the protective gear as an additional safeguard against COVID-19, including its new Omicron variant.

The government has relaxed its rules on the wearing of face shields on top of face masks, making it mandatory only in areas under granular lockdowns, those under the most stringent Alert Level 5, and healthcare and quarantine facilities.

Officials have since clarified that commercial establishments and employers have the option to require the use of face shields in their respective premises.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. on Sunday said the government would look into the possible reimposition of the face shield requirement, citing the need to protect the public against the Omicron variant.

"Well as it stands, it is still the same. The latest resolution of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) states that it (use of face shield) is mandatory in healthcare (facilities) and in other settings, it is voluntary," acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said at a press briefing.

"But if we ask the experts, of course it is an added layer of protection. So while it is voluntary, of course — personally, I would like to encourage our countrymen, if they can wear face shields, let us wear face shields as an additional protection," he added.

At present, the wearing of face shields on top of face masks is voluntary in areas that are under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3. For Alert Level 4 areas, local governments and private establishments have the discretion to mandate the use of face shields.

Nograles, also the IATF's spokesman, reminded the public to continue observing minimum health protocols like the wearing of face masks, frequent handwashing, and physical distancing. He also urged Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  

The government has updated its travel protocols to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant first reported in South Africa. It has banned inbound flights from countries that have reported cases of the Omicron variant namely South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy.

The Philippines has also suspended a policy allowing fully-vaccinated nationals of non-visa-required "green" list countries to enter the Philippines.

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