To face shield, or not to face shield, that is the question

Published November 4, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin


One of the most “divisive” items in this pandemic is undoubtedly the face shield. Some people say it is a useful barrier against an unseen virus, while some would just put it on their head like a sun visor or hair clip. Even health experts couldn’t agree among themselves if this cheap plastic barrier on our faces is truly useful or not.

Of course, a face shield plus face mask are still important to wear in a crowded setting, inside an air-conditioned room, or more appropriately within the premises of a medical facility. But wearing a face shield in an outdoor environment or in spaces where physical distancing is observed is still questionable. Until today, there are no relevant or wide-scale studies backing a face shield’s efficacy or proving its effectiveness in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Early this week, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced that plastic barriers in public utility vehicles such as jeepneys, taxis, and buses are no longer required. Netizens heaped “I told you so” reactions with the majority saying that the DOTr’s decision was overdue as there were no studies proving that plastic barriers can effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19. And this is the worse part – instead of protecting the passengers – they say that the virus “could even stick to the plastic barriers.”

]Now, Filipinos are asking, “How about the plastic barrier on our faces? Will face shields be the next one eliminated?” Some have even cited the reality that our country is the only one in the world that still has a face shield mandate.

Not so fast, though. It remains to be seen but the IATF, according to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, is “studying the possibility of finally ending the face shield policy” in light of the decreasing number of new COVID cases.

This early, Filipino moviegoers are anticipating the re-opening of cinemas and watching movies once again on the big screen. Though it will be not business-as-usual for cinemas as health protocols will be observed, what raised some eyebrows is the requirement to wear a face shield when watching a movie. Even the research group OCTA questioned this decision and asked “if it actually makes sense.”

“It will not be an enjoyable experience if you’re watching a movie while wearing a face shield,” according to OCTA’s Dr. Guido David in an interview. “The removal of the face shield will be fine since those who will be allowed to enter the movie theaters are only fully vaccinated individuals.” Add to that, movie theaters can only operate at a 30 percent capacity, while moviegoers – who must wear their face masks at all times – are seated one seat apart.

So the question now is – to face shield or not to face shield? Ultimately, it should be a personal decision. “Fans” of face shields would say that it is an extra safety gear that prevents you from accidentally scratching your eyes or nose; while for the critics, a face shield is a fool’s armor that protects us from nothing.

Whether one agrees with the pros or the cons, everyone can see eye-to-eye that a face shield is a sobering reminder that the pandemic robbed us of so many collective human experiences, one of which is watching a movie on a large screen and enjoying it with strangers inside a crowded room.