MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed that face shields should only be worn in hospitals, a Malacañang spokesman and a lawmaker said on Thursday after meeting with the chief executive.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Duterte made the statement during a meeting with lawmakers in Malacañang.
"Last night, the President agreed that face shields should only be used in hospitals," Sotto said in a tweet.
"Allowed us to remove ours! Attn DOH!" he said, noting that those who attended the meeting were not required to don face shields despite being inside Malacañang.
Among the lawmakers who attended the said meeting were Sotto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher "Bong" Go, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino and Joel Villanueva.
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Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque later confirmed Sotto's remark.
"The President did say that the wearing of face shield should only be in hospitals," Roque said in a press briefing. "What the President has decided, then that’s the policy."
"The discussion also focused on mayroon ba talagang ibang bansa na nagpapasuot ng face shield. Let's leave it at that kasi 'yon lang 'yong talagang words that came out of the President's mouth," he added.
However, he noted that the inter-agency task force that advises Duterte on COVID-19 response would meet today and could agree to appeal the rule on face shields.
Face shields could offer an additional 9 percent of protection against the novel coronavirus, said Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a professor of biology and theology at Providence Colleges in the US.
"When you're outside, the additional 9 percent may not be as important. But if you are inside, especially in a crowded space, the additional 9 percent may be important, he said in the same briefing.
"In those areas that are undergoing [COVID-19] surge, I would recommend--in high risk areas, the 9 percent may be important," added Austriaco.
The health department earlier said face shields may be removed when outdoors, but must still be worn in closed spaces.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government said it was against the removal of face shields in open-air settings.
Sotto and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso were among the politicians who have been urging the national government to scrap the mandatory wearing of face shields in public areas, saying the Philippines is the lone country that requires the additional protection on top of face masks.
But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III rejected these pleas, noting the policy is backed by science.