Last week, an announcement was made that face shields are now mandatory for everyone when outside your home. Yes, while some countries are now vaccinating their citizens, and other countries are in the process of developing vaccines, the Philippines is at the stage of mandating face shields, including when you ride your bicycle.
I was asked on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GoyYLarrazabal) about using a face shield while riding a bicycle. Aside from no credible scientific basis that shows face shields help contain the virus when using a bicycle, I can’t even begin to explain how dangerous it is to use one while riding a bicycle. In my reply, I posted that when riding a bicycle, I wear a helmet (a must for ALL cyclists when riding a bicycle) and a face mask. I have a face shield in my bag and just use it in case I enter a business establishment which requires a face shield before entry. I went to on to emphasize that using a face shield while cycling is deadly dangerous as it obscures vision and is almost impossible to wear because it hits the helmet you’re using (remember, helmets save lives). It also makes it much more difficult to breathe. And those are problems when cycling in daytime and in good weather. Last Friday night I rode my bicycle in the rain. I use eyeglasses, and it would already fog up. Requiring people to use a face shield at night, and in the rain is senseless and illogical. ANY person who rides a bicycle knows this.
Even the World Health Organization in their website posted on June, 2020, the WHO issued this:
“Can people wear masks while exercising?”
“People should NOT wear masks when exercising as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Sweat makes the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promote growth of microorganisms. The important preventive measure during exercise if to maintain physical distance of at least one meter from others.”
Just imagine, the World Health Organization already says wearing masks is not required while exercising. We now not only took the opposite approach but made it even worse by requiring face shields. Can we kindly listen to and talk with scientists and expert doctors BEFORE announcing policies (which ends up being “modified” later)?
Even the Department of Health and Department of Transportation issued press releases saying face shields are not required when cycling. In response to this, it seems the IATF asked for exemptions to the rule for adjustments to policy. Which brings me to an obvious point that needs to be re-emphasized. Do officials not talk with each other before announcing policy? Are plans this haphazardly determined? Can we PLEASE come up with well thought-out and well-coordinated policies that have the safety and welfare of the Filipino in mind?
Which brings me yet to another point. The threat that cyclists will be penalized if they do not follow the directive that you have to wear a face shield when riding your bicycle. The IATF does not have the power to impose a penalty for non-compliance with this directive. A penalty can only be imposed by a national law or ordinance issued by an LGU. It’s the LGU which issues an ordinance imposing a penalty for non-compliance of a directive. An official cannot penalize a person for not wearing a face shield while cycling using the IATF directive as basis.
The sad thing here is that it is, unfortunately, another justification to extort money. I’ve spoken with some cyclists, and that is a real fear for them. That despite no legal justification to penalize them for not wearing face shields, they will end up coughing up money to avoid any trouble. Many will say, that we can argue when apprehended or accosted. I’m not worried about us who can do that, because we know we can argue with individuals who want to extort money. I’m worried about the poor people who, because of fear, just pay. That they won’t anymore argue, but will just pay to avoid any trouble. THEY’RE the ones who need protection now. They’re the ones who’ll be victims of this. Many people who ride a bicycle to commute now are barely getting by. Let’s please consider their welfare and safety.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Wear a mask and helmet when riding your bicycle.