Say goodbye to face shields, Manileños. Today, Nov. 8, Manila City mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso signed Executive Order 42, which effectively requires wearing face shields only in hospitals and other medical facilities. People going out in the city will only need to wear face masks starting today.
Domagoso cited public clamor against the ordinance which previously mandated wearing this additional layer of protection on top of face masks. He said that other than making the lives of people such as elderlies and delivery personnel more convenient, lifting the requirement will also help lessen the waste generated from used face shields.
Many government agencies have already considered ditching face shields. Last week, Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said they support the easing of added protection like face shields in areas with low COVID-19 transmission. However, she added that DOH needs more evidence to formulate a recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday said many IATF members favor removing the requirement to wear face shields.[READ: Bye, face shields? Duterte will require it only in hospitals, says Sotto]
Wearing the personal protective gear made of plastic became mandatory in December 2020. Face shields have since become a source of controversy and scrutiny.
In September, it was revealed in a Senate investigation that DOH bought “expired” face shields from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. The said company was awarded supply contracts for medical supplies worth over P8 billion last year. This is despite the fact that it is only several months old and just had P625,000 in paid-up capital.
The Philippines is the only country in the world where face shields are required despite the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention having no recommendations for wearing it. However, WHO cautioned in September that it is untimely to lift the requirement given the surge in cases at the time.
Over the weekend, the Octa Research Group said the COVID-19 surge in NCR is in a general decline. As of Sunday, Nov. 7, DOH recorded 2,605 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 2,803,213, of which, 33,526 are active cases—the lowest in eight months.