President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases to scrap the mandatory use of face shields in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3.

A memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea contained Duterte’s decision to make voluntary the use of face shields in the said areas.

For areas under Alert Level 4, the requirement of face shields is up to local government units and private establishments.

Only in areas under Alert Level 5 is the use of face shields in “community settings” mandatory.

Face masks, on the other hand, remain mandatory.

“Ang decision ko is, okay, tanggalin na ninyo ‘yung [face] shield…You dispense the shield but not the mask. Iyong mask will forever remain and it will be a part of our day-to-day [lives],” the president said in a “Talk to the People” address.

Duterte’s latest decision ended a months-long flip-flopping of the government on the use of face shields.

The Philippine government first made mandatory the use of face shields in December 2020 despite there being little evidence that it helps prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Existing minimum public health standards include wearing of masks, frequent washing of hands and physical distancing. John Ezekiel J. Hirro