COVID-19 Crisis: A collective push to make face shields non-mandatory in Metro Manila

It has been days since Alert Level 2 was declared all over Metro Manila and the result was the increase presence of people – including minors – at the parks, the shopping malls and food-and-beverage joints. This past Sunday, I noticed more vehicles traveling north on the Metro Manila Skyway which I found surprising as Sunday traffic is normally light. Vaccination for COVID-19 in the metropolis continues to grow and the national average of daily new infections has been below 5,000 per day for some time now. Things are looking optimistic.

As for the face shields that local have been compelled to use for some time now, there is a collective push to make them non-mandatory in Metro Manila. For one thing, face shields make verbal communication harder (as people are already wearing face masks). Another thing is that face shields can be quite inconvenient, even uncomfortable to use whether outdoors or indoors. Surely the local believers of face shields keep on preaching that the said things provide greater protection from COVID-19 but does the rest of the world agree with them? Locally, the OCTA Research group expressed that face shields should not be required inside cinemas.

More recently, it seems that the mayors of Metro Manila and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) want to scrap the use of face shields (note: there will still be specific places that require face shields) and make their recommendation to the national authorities, the Manila Bulletin reported.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin report. Some parts in boldface…

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the scrapping of mandatory use of face shields in the National Capital Region following mutual agreement among Metro mayors.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said Monday, Nov. 8, that the use of face shields will no longer be required except for “critical places.”

Critical areas, according to Abalos, are the hospitals, barangay health centers and public transportation.

“Ang napag-usapan namin sa faceshield number 1, ito yung isusugest ko sa IATF, na tanggalin na ho ang face shield hindi na gawing mandatory except for critical places (What we discussed about the faceshield was that the lifting of its mandatory use except for critical places. I would suggest that to the IATF),” Abalos said in a TeleRadyo interview when asked about what was Metro mayors’ say on removing the use of face shields.

Once approved by the IATF, the use of face shields will no longer be necessary in malls, Abalos added.

Last week, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. Jonathan Malaya disclosed that DILG Sec. Año will be proposing to the IATF the lifting of the same policy as Metro Manila already deescalated to Alert Level 2 status.

For his part, Senator Manny Pacquiao expressed support on lifting the mandatory use of face shields, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Pacquiao, who is running for Philippine President, also expressed his awareness about economic recovery and lessening the burden people have been living with.  

Going back to the Metro Manila Council and the MMDA, it has been reported by GMA Network that a recommendation or an appeal will be submitted to the IATF. Take note that the IATF is the top authority on COVID-19 matters and policies here in the Philippines.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Do you think that the Metro Manila mayors and the MMDA, who are partly responsible for the August ECQ and even implemented a ban on outdoor exercise, are sincere about face shields right now? Are you sick and tired of being required to use face shields? What is the one thing you despised the most about face shields?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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