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Shield spat

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - December 6, 2020 - 12:00am

My pet peeve at the moment: face shields.

I know they’re inanimate objects, but rather than vent against government officials, it’s much more conducive to the observance of criminal laws to vent instead on that plastic menace.

Yes, I say menace. Those flimsy covers that lamely try to protect your eyes and noses from the influx of flying viruses? Yep, they’re menaces. Not just to the environment (as I see plenty of discarded shields littering the sidewalks and streets), but even to human beings.

So, here we are. Government, out of the blue, decides to make the wearing of face shields mandatory for all employees while at their places of work, out of a supposed concern for their well-being. Sure, that idea has the right motivation behind it, but execution of the idea leaves lots to be desired.

Early on, I already noted that restaurants began requiring customers to wear face shields upon entering - even though those customers aren’t employees. But as soon as people sit down to partake of their orders, off come shields (and even masks), and the gabbing and gossiping begin. What use the shields then? A shield is a requirement to enter, but not to stay? Where is the logic?

Some establishments are worse, because customers are required to wear shields when they enter, but employees who spend hours and hours within are not. Well, maybe they are, but the owner or manager is just too lazy to care. But if that’s the case, why enforce the shield-rule on people who enter?

Same thing in airlines. On a flight just this Friday, the flight crew announced that shield use was mandatory. After take-off, here comes the crew, distributing water and snacks to the passengers who needed respite from the harrowing process of checking in (that actually deserves another rant.) Guess what came off fast?

We must be the only country that mandates face shields for its workforce. Based on my completely unscientific survey of the Instagram stories of people that I follow, other countries don’t.

Given the disparity, shouldn’t our government constantly review its requirements and amend (or completely discard) these requirements if they turn out to be fallacious or unnecessary? (I’ll answer that one - yes, they should).

Our plastic waste alone must have considerably accumulated. Is there an official disposal method for shields? How do people dispose of them to make them less damaging to the environment? Are we going to get advisories or helpful tips? (Cue deafening silence.)

Does government even track how they’re being disposed of? Wouldn’t they be considered, at some point, medical waste? Especially if worn in critical environments like hospitals! (but this is just a theory, don’t shoot me if this is a wrong turn of thought.)

But let’s not even get to shield disposal first. What about proper care? Do we, the citizens who are supposed to be protected from infection, get official tips about how to care for them, such that they’re cleansed rigorously and continuously, for continued and safe wearing?

Or does government not think about these facets, and all it wants to see are plastic-wrapped citizens on the streets? Because for sure, someone somewhere made scads and scads of money on the importation of shields. That Heng De manufacturer sure had great connections within the Philippines, as it quickly swamped the market with mounds and mounds of face shields, with prices quickly spiraling downwards to less than a dollar. (Thanks Heng De, for siphoning off so much money from our dutiful citizens).

There have been anecdotes about infections being sourced from shields - but I’ll let some other writer research that one. The point is, I really hate having to keep one hand free just so I can carry that darn shield everywhere I go. (Hence, the rant.)

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