President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced that face shield requirements have been relaxed to apply only to 3Cs — close, crowded, close-contact.
"No more face shields outside... Ang face shield, gamitin mo lang sa 3Cs: closed facility, hospital, basta magkadikit-dikit, crowded room, tapos close-contact. So diyan, applicable pa rin ang face shield," Duterte said in his second public address this week.
"Other than that, I have ordered kung ganoon lang naman, sabi ko then I will order that we accept the recommendation nitong executive department," he added.
Duterte said he ordered that the implementation guidelines be issued immediately.
The government's face shield requirements have been a topic of much debate, with few other countries in the world having the same mandate, especially because of additional cost for common Filipinos.
Some experts have questioned the effectiveness of face shields in protecting against the COVID-19 virus, even as the government's advisory panel has insisted that it still offered a layer of protection especially with the more contagious Delta variant.
Earlier in the year, Duterte had appeared to relax the face shield mandates before reversing himself, saying he was convinced by experts.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier said the face shield requirements would stay unless the World Health Organization deemed it unnecessary.
A 2014 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the US found that face shields reduced inhalational exposure by 96% of a healthcare worker in facilities and hospitals, but only right after exposure to a person who coughed. The rest of the particles stay in the air and may still enter the face shield.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday said the President's decision to relax the use of face shields amid the pandemic is a "step in the right direction."
"We sincerely thank the President for heeding the advice of medical experts to limit the use of plastic face coverings in “3 Cs”—closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings," Velasco said in a press statement.
"This is a step in the right direction given the absence of solid medical proof that face shields are effective against the transmission of the deadly coronavirus," Velasco added.
He said the latest policy would somehow ease the financial burden of Filipino families whose livelihood was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, Velasco said the cost of the face shield, which is about P20 to P50, is already a substantial amount equivalent to the cost of a meal for poor Filipinos.
Aside from that, Velasco believed that this move would reduce the environmental impact of face shields, which contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.—With Anna Felicia Bajo/JST, GMA News