People can remove face shields when outdoors: Health official

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 16 2021 12:29 PM | Updated as of Jun 16 2021 06:23 PM

People can remove face shields when outdoors: Health official 1
Pet dogs wearing face masks and face shields are seen on top of a pedicab along a street in Tondo, Manila on Good Friday, April 2, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - Face shields may be removed in outdoor settings to avoid accidents, a Department of Health official said Wednesday, when asked about the government's policy on the additional protective equipment against COVID-19.

Those working or walking in open-air settings do not have to wear face shields, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega told state television PTV.

"Ang face shields kailangan lang naman talaga 'yan 'pag nasa indoor ka, 'pag nasa mall ka or pag may interaction ka face to face inside," he said.

(Face shields are needed only when people are indoor, in malls, or when the have face to face interaction inside.)

"Kapag nasa outside naman, ang risk of transmission is very low. 'Pag naglalakad ka sa kalye, baka maka-affect 'yung moist nito so puwede ninyo pong tanggalin 'yan," he said.

(When outside, the risk of transmission is very low. Those walking outdoors may remove it because the moisture may affect them.)

Vega said face shields should still be worn in closed spaces.

"Kapag pumasok kayo indoors po kailangan may face shields kasi ito 'yung added protection na hindi kayo maka-transmit o mahawaan kayo," he said.

(When you go indoors you have to wear face shields because this is an added protection so that you won't transmit or be infected by the disease.)

When asked to clarify Vega's pronouncement, DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said "this has always been the standing policy."

In a statement sent to reporters, Vergeire said face shields are required to be worn in the following settings: 
- enclosed public spaces
- schools
- workplaces
- commercial establishments such as but not limited to food establishments, malls, and public markets
- public transport and terminals
- places of worship
- other public spaces wherein 1 meter physical distancing is not possible AND there is gathering of more than 10 pax at the same venue at the same time.

"The IATF Resolution No. 88 and the Omnibus Guidelines in the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines as of May 20,2021, allow the local government units to implement stricter MPHS measures within their jurisdictions, in accordance with the existing laws and guidelines of the national government," she said.

But as far as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is concerned face shields are required to be worn both indoors and outdoors, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told TeleRadyo's Kuwentuhang Lokal.

"Narinig nga po namin yung statement ni Usec. Vega, and I’m trying to find out from the DOH kung meron na silang pagbabago sa kanilang policy," said Malaya, who is also the spokesperson of DILG.

(We heard that statement of Usec. Vega and I'm trying to find out from DOH if they have changed their policy.)

"But for the DILG, it is an added protection, whether you are indoor or outdoor. Kung aalisin mo kasi yan, makakalimutan mo na yan eh," he said.

(If you remove it, you will forget about it.)

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and several senators earlier questioned the need to wear face shields on top of face masks, saying the Philippines is the lone country mandating the extra layer of protection against COVID-19.

But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III rejected calls to scrap the need to wear face shields in public places, saying the policy is backed by science.

Video courtesy: PTV