THE PHILIPPINES AND THE CURIOUS CASE OF MANDATORY FACE SHIELDS AND FACE MASKS
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has just ordered the mandatory use of face shields and face masks for all Philippine residents in public areas, and citizens are asking if it's really necessary.
Questions have arose following the IATF’s announcement to make face shields over face masks a required safety protocol for all Philippine residents going out to public spaces. Full face shields are to be used, covering the forehead up to the chin, with the added protection of face masks. With this extra layer serving as a barrier, the government believes that it could minimize the risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading further, especially during the holidays.
However, many concerned citizens have raised their apprehension towards this new rule on social media. A lot of people argued that this is yet another expense from the pockets of Filipinos who are earning less than they deserve, and it might not even be truly necessary to battle COVID-19. The reality is that, with the required use of shields, many families will be forced to spend a sum of money that could have gone to a Christmas meal, or some other necessity.
When, in fact, many countries like Taiwan and New Zealand have managed to contain the spread of the virus with no need for it. On top of that, the production and consumption of millions of face shields will undoubtedly contribute greatly to the world’s ever-growing pollution count. And for what, if it’s not truly necessary?
Online, there have been questions on who this new rule is truly benefiting. Is it the general public, or a face shield manufacturer that has scored a deal with the higher-ups?
We're able to eliminate COVID transmissions here in Victoria WITHOUT face shields. So the real question is, sinong negosyante ang pinapaboran ng gobyerno sa face shield policy na ito?
— Laurence Marvin (@benok_castillo) December 15, 2020
Even WHO doesn't believe that face shields have additional benefit when used outside hospital settings. Sinong government official kaya ang nalulugi sa kanyang face shield business? ???? https://t.co/pUXHiE5Nzv
— millennial of manila (@MillennialOfMNL) December 15, 2020
Other countries have successfully controlled COVID-19 without ever requiring face shields even in outdoor spaces – but none of them have succeeded without an effective testing and tracing program on top of long-term investment in their public health system. https://t.co/GasQLaZga3
— Gideon Lasco (@gideonlasco) December 15, 2020
Of course, we’d like to believe it’s the former, with our government officials putting the nation’s best interest first. But it does open an important conversation on pandemic profiteering, and the many industries that have taken advantage of the “New Normal” rules for their own capitalist gain. This includes all the businesses that have raised their prices unreasonably high to match the demand for their products, knowing fully well that these are essential things for people to survive: face masks, hand sanitizers, and more.
Hopefully this new rule is not an example of that, and stems from actual, science-backed, proof that face shields actually help. With more and more people feeling confident and safe enough to go outside and travel, it’s of utmost importance that we stay diligent in following safety protocols that work. Especially as we still have yet to truly contain the spread of the virus, and new cases are still rising by the thousands each day. No matter the reasoning behind it, face shields are now a required part of our outdoor attires—and we have no choice but to comply.