MANILA: Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the wearing of face shields will no longer be required in most areas of the Philippines in the wake of a steady fall in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
Prior to the leader’s address to the nation aired on Monday, the southeast Asian country’s Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases declared that for areas under alert levels three, two, and one, the use of face shields would be voluntary.
However, the Metro Manila area will remain under alert level two until Nov. 30.
The Philippines has been one of the few countries in the world to order that face shields be worn as an added layer of protection against COVID-19.
In his speech, Duterte said: “My decision is okay, you can now remove face shields. You dispense with the shields but not the (face) mask.
“The mask will remain forever, and it will be part of our day-to-day safety measures because the virus which is airborne will be here for a long time.”
The president noted that places under alert level five and those with a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, such as hospitals, would still require the mandatory wearing of face shields.
Meanwhile, he urged local government units to adopt rules banning under 12s from malls and other public spaces to protect them from COVID-19. And he pointed out that the same category of children and those who were still unvaccinated and at risk of contracting the virus should not be allowed in public places, as per the IATF’s recommendation.
“Again, to the parents and guardians of minors who are unvaccinated, please be mindful of the risk. Part of caring for them is thinking about their safety. I hope no one among our children will get COVID-19,” Duterte added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Filipino public should be cautious in the face of a downward trend in COVID-19 cases nationwide.
He pointed out that the improved COVID-19 outlook in the Philippines should not be treated as an excuse by the public to ditch adherence to safeguards such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
“We have to increase our vaccination coverage, sustain the trajectory — couple that with a very disciplined compliance to minimum public health standards,” Duque added.