President Duterte has left it to the government’s pandemic task force to decide whether or not to make the use of face shields mandatory again as a precautionary measure against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

File photo of President Duterte wearing a face shield. (Malacañang photo)

Duterte made the statement amid the threat of the new variant which is said to be “highly mutated” and caused the country to be strict again on international inbound travel.

In his meeting with health experts and Cabinet officials on Monday evening, Nov. 29, the President recognized that face shields may provide an additional layer of protection.

“For me [the face shields are] an added protection. Maski na gaano (for what it’s worth)– even how minimal it would be,” he claimed.

However, Duterte said he would just let the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases have the final say on the matter.

“I would suggest to the Task Force to make a statement whether or not really to [require face shields again],” Duterte said.

“Since we have a dearth of data [about the Omicron variant]– In the meantime, prudence will just dictate that maybe we’ll be strict again at kayo, and (and you at the) Task Force, you have to sort it out whether we have to reimpose the shield. Kasi nakadagdag talaga, eh (because it really helps),” he added.

Over the weekend, National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. floated the idea that the government may require the wearing of face shields anew amid the threat of the Omicron variant which was first discovered in South Africa.

On Nov.15, President Duterte approved the recommendations to ease the country’s face shield policy and to keep the said equipment mandatory in areas under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), alert level 5, and granular lockdown.

The following guidelines on the use of face shields are to take effect immediately:

  • For areas under ECQ, alert level 5, and granular lockdowns, the use of face shields in community settings shall be mandatory
  • For areas under alert level 4, local government units (LGUs) and private establishments are given the discretion to mandate the use of face shields
  • For areas under alert levels 3, 2, and 1, the use of face shields shall be voluntary but also upon the discretion of employers and establishments

However, on Monday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles advised the public to wear face shields again if they can due to the threat of the new Omicron variant.

“Kung kaya naman po magsuot ng face shield ay magsuot ng face shield para dagdag proteksyon na lamang po (If we can wear face shields then let’s wear face shields as an added layer of protection),” he said.

“Ito po ay mandatory sa mga healthcare settings at sa ibang settings naman po ay voluntary siya (Face shields are mandatory in healthcare settings while it is voluntary in other settings). But we ask the experts,” he added.