MORE than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re still arguing about one of the requirements of basic health and safety protocols imposed by Inter Agency Task Force, the wearing of face shields inside PUVs and in public places.
The burning question is, are face shields even necessary?
The Department of Health (DOH) has maintained that face shields provide an extra layer of protection against the virus, along with other precautions such as face masks and physical distancing.
Ordinary citizens, however, find face shields a pain in the neck.
Not only do the face shields blur their vision (especially during the night, when they tend to magnify bright lights), they also add to extremely hot temperatures we’ve experienced in the past weeks.
They also tend to come off easily (especially those designed after eyeglasses) and get blown away by strong winds.
Critics say the Philippines is one of the few countries in the world that actually mandate face shields outdoors.
Many countries which have successfully contained the Covid-19 virus relied on the strict implementation of travel restrictions, physical distancing and wearing of face masks.
Yes, the Philippines is strict when it comes to implementing the face shield policy, but I’ve noticed that some enforcers now turn a blind eye on people not wearing face masks or crowding in public places.
Even more mind-boggling is that, according to some authorities, face shields are not recommended, especially as a substitute for masks.
Here’s what the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to say on the subject:
“CDC does not recommend using face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks. Goggles or other eye protection may be used in addition to a mask. Do NOT put a plastic face shield (or a mask) on newborns or infants.
“Face shields and goggles are primarily used to protect the eyes of the person wearing it. Goggles do not cover the nose and mouth. Face shields are not as effective at protecting you or the people around you from respiratory droplets. Face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you and will not protect you from respiratory droplets from others.”
I am not surprised, therefore, that some local politicians are now advocating relaxing the rule on face shields – or even abolishing them altogether.
Given the fact that Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila are now going on a “roller-coaster” motion (OCTA Research has called the trend “unstable”), people are now questioning: are face shields even worth it?
I would like to end this column with a quote from ACT-CIS Partylist Representative Jocelyn Tulfo, one of the growing voices inside government calling to scrap the face shield rule:
“Real talk: Filipinos only wear face shields for compliance para hindi sitahin ng guwardiya, tanod, o pulis. We are doing more harm than good by insisting on the mandatory face shield. Dagdag gastos lang yan sa taumbayan and those flimsy plastic face shields would just wound up in our garbage sites and seas.”