Earlier this year, when the first known cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines were travelers arriving from the ground zero nation of China, health officials began dispensing the advice of people wearing facemasks when going outside along with keeping physical distance and minimizing contact. When the nationwide lockdown was implemented, these health advisories became enforceable safety protocols. By mid-2020 most Filipinos diligently wore medical or reusable facemasks outside of homes, along with transparent face-shields when working in face-to-face customer service jobs. It has served well at times, though not enough to slow down new cases as quarantine levels somewhat de-escalated.
Now, as Inquirer.net reports, even a facemask will no longer be enough for outdoors, especially when one is commuting on public transportation. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has issued this past Wednesday, August 5, a Memorandum Circular No. 2020-14, that requires all travelers of public land, sea and air transport to wear a face shield on top of the already-mandatory facemask to up the level of protection from being infected by the novel coronavirus. The DOTr based its decision on the MO on advice from health authorities on how the combined used of face mask and shield even more protects wearers from COVID-carrying respiratory droplets.
There are also specifics on the type of face shields recommended by the DOTr for public transport passengers, and that they must be full-face coverings that shield the nose and mouth in addition to the eyes. With this new regulation, public transport operators can prevent non-compliant passengers with insufficient face shield or wearing none at all, from boarding their vehicles. Transport Undersecretary – Admin Affairs Artemio Tuazon noted that this face shield regulation will take effect nationwide on August 15, while for Metro Manila and neighboring provinces currently under Enhanced Community Quarantine, it will be on August 18 when ECQ ends and public transportation resumes operation.
In response to a rising furor that the added requirement of face shields is an additional “anti-poor” burden on society still reeling from COVID-19, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade asks the pubic to prefer seeing the new regulation as another investment to greater safety against possible viral infection. No amount of protection is too much when it comes to health and safety, especially that we are battling an invisible enemy,” he says. “What we are addressing is not a transport issue but rather a health issue.”
Face shields on the Philippine market today range in price from P30 to P100, depending on material and quality of screen and framework. They mush however be frequently sanitized between use, as the COVID-19 virus is sadit to be able to survive on plastic surfaces for three days at minimum.
Image: Yahoo News