The government’s pandemic task force on Friday said that some private establishments are still authorized to require face shields within their premises.
This came less than a week after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the face shield policy in areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3.
Palace made the first announcement on the face shield rule on Tuesday.
For areas under Alert Level 4, the implementation of the policy is up to local government units and private establishments.
Face shields are still mandatory for places under Alert Level 5.
However, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles withdrew the earlier advisory in a briefing on Friday.
Nograles said that employers may still implement the policy in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3, citing Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) resolution No. 149.
“With regard to the voluntary use of face shields for areas under Alert Level 3 to 1, it is hereby clarified that the same is without prejudice to employers still requiring their use for their employees/workers and/or customers in their respective premises,” he said.
This clarification resembled the face shield mandate for localities under Alert Level 4.
Social media users and even pages of some businesses previously rejoiced online after the government declared the voluntary use of the plastic gear.
Others also suggested to look for alternative uses for face shields instead of throwing them away.
Following Nograles’ announcement, local Twitter users slammed the government for decisions on the face shield policy perceived “confusing.”
“Gulong gulo na pagkatao namin. Sana for once umayos kayo,” one Twitter user said.
“Almost two years in pandemic, playing safe pa rin ang gobyerno. Wala pa ring firm decision,” another Twitter user wrote.
“Wag nga kayo, naenjoy ko na ung hindi pagsusuot ng face shield kahapon kahit sa loob ng mall eh,” an online user said.
Ecowaste Coalition on Thursday advised the public not to discard their face shields that easily just in case.
“Kung ito’y hindi pa sira, HUWAG MUNA ITONG ITAPON! Para makasigurado, mas makabubuti na i-disinfect muna sila para magamit ulit kung sakaling tumaas muli ang alert levels sa inyong lugar, kapag bibyahe sa mga Alert Level 4 at 5 na lugar, o kung kinakailangan sa inyong pinagtatrabahuhan,” the coalition said.
Early this month, the national government and some local government units also figured in a conflict of views on the face shield directive.
Some LGUs issued ordinances that made wearing the plastic gear optional.
Palace, on the other hand, told them to wait for the IATF’s recommendation first.
Doctors and some health organizations have also been calling for the removal of the face shield protocol since last year.
They cited different studies that showed no scientific proof that they are effective in preventing COVID-19 transmissions.
The Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin also added in a previous interview that plastic materials in barriers can even cause an infection rather than preventing it.
The Department of Health, the IATF, and other related government agencies, however, have insisted that the mandate on face shields were based on science and expert opinion.