Face shield use in public transport ‘voluntary’ in Alert Level 1, 2, 3 areas

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THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, said the wearing of face shields in all public transportation in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3 will no longer be mandatory.

This follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval Monday of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ recommendation to make “voluntary” the wearing of face shields in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3.

The IATF made these recommendations through Resolution 148-D, series of 2021, issued on Nov. 11, 2021.

A memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Monday stated that face shields were still mandatory in medical and quarantine facility settings, and required for use by healthcare workers in healthcare settings.

On Tuesday, the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) also said the wearing of face shields will no longer be required for entry to its ports.

In his advisory issued on Nov. 16, 2021, CPA General Manager Leonilo Miole said he decided to lift the face shield requirement after the IATF placed Cebu under Alert Level 2.

Miole said the CPA would continue to require strict compliance with other health protocols.

“The wearing of a face mask, observance of a safe distance, frequent hand sanitation and the use of tracing app/mechanism are still mandatory prior to entry at any facility of Cebu Port Authority,” Miole said.

Six months after the Covid-19 pandemic began last year, the CPA had started requiring passengers entering its ports to wear face shields.

This was done to implement the DOTr’s Memorandum Circular 2020-014 which mandated the use of face shields on all public transportation, including sea vessels.

Even with the DOTr’s new directive making the wearing of face shields voluntary in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3, however, LGUs still have the final say on whether to require the use of face shields on public transport, according to a regional transport official.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Central Visayas Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said Cebu City’s policy of requiring passengers to wear face shields in public utility vehicles (PUV) that are enclosed and without windows that can be opened should still be followed unless withdrawn by Acting Mayor Michael Rama.

Rama had issued a directive last Nov. 9 lifting the face shield requirement, except in medical settings and on public transport that has no open windows or ventilation.

Montealto said as long as the PUV’s windows can be opened for the air to naturally circulate, passengers do not have to wear a face shield.

“If the vehicle’s windows are fixed, we’ll need to wear face shields. But on our modern jeeps and buses here, these can be opened,” Montealto said.

Toledo scraps shields

Also on Tuesday, another city in Cebu scrapped the use of face shields except in medical settings.

Toledo City Mayor Marjorie Perales abolished the requirement of wearing such while the city is classified under Alert Level 2.

Perales said the use of face shields is still required in establishments that need additional protection from Covid-19 transmission such as the Toledo City General Hospital, birthing centers, medical clinics, diagnostics laboratories and other medical facilities.

In private offices and enclosed establishments, the wearing of the protective equipment shall be the prerogative of the management.

Last week, the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Talisay lifted the requirement to use face shields except in medical settings, with Cebu City adding enclosed public transport to its exceptions, and Talisay City giving the management of private offices or private-owned enclosed places the option to require the use of face shields in their premises.

Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu City, Mandaue City and Cebu Province are among the 72 areas in the country under Alert Level 2 until the end of the month. (LMY, IRT, JKV)

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