The Department of Health (DOH) is now revising guidelines on the use of face shields, to require their use only indoors, in crowded areas, and places in which people are in close contact with one another.
The announcement by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday comes on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to scrap the need for face shields in open areas.
The use of face shields has become a highly contentious issue, with critics of the policy noting that the Philippines is the only country that mandates its use.
Vergeire said the new guidelines are based on the 3Cs (closed, crowded, close-contact) framework following expert recommendations.
“These are indoor activities, especially in settings where there is crowding or exposure risk or promotes close contact based on the nature of work, such as with establishments and in transportation,” Vergeire said.
Another recommendation of the DOH is to use face shields in indoor and outdoor dining (except when eating) and indoor and outdoor gatherings or crowded settings.
Other indoor and outdoor activities which promote close contact, like personal care services, would also require the use of a face shield.
"It is highly recommended to use [face shields] in settings not otherwise stated, especially in alert levels 3, 4 and 5,” Vergeire said.
Seven other agencies would need to concur after they complete revisions to the memorandum covering face shields, Vergeire added.
The President, in a public address, said he approved the recommendation of government advisers to limit the use of face shields to areas falling under the crowded, closed, and close contact (3C) category.
“In those three areas, a face shield is still a must. That's the recommendation. Outside the three limitations, it's allowed not to use one,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Health officials advised the public to still bring face shields with them at all times, as they still might need them to enter certain areas.
“It's better to still bring a face shield. Although we don't have to wear it all the time if we go outdoors,” said Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.
On Thursday, the Palace announced that the quarantine classification in Abra, Baguio City, and Bohol has been upgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions, while the quarantine level in Ilocos Norte has been downgraded to regular GCQ.
The new quarantine status in Abra, Baguio City, Bohol, and IlocosNorte will take effect on Sept. 24, Roque said.
Abra and Baguio City were initially placed under the regular GCQ, while Bohol was supposed to be under the more relaxed modified GCQ (MGCQ).
Ilocos Norte, on the other hand, was originally under MGCQ.
Roque said tourist attractions may also operate at 30 percent venue capacity, subject to “strict” adherence to minimum public health standards.
“Business establishments with Safety Seal Certifications shall be allowed to operate at an additional 10 percent points beyond the prescribed on-site capacity or venue/seating capacity, whichever is applicable,” he said.
He said specialized markets of the Department of Tourism (DOT), including staycations without age restrictions, will be allowed “at such capacities, protocols and restrictions, as may be imposed by the DOT.”
Roque said interzonal travel will be allowed, subject to restrictions of the LGU of destination.
“Point-to-point travel to areas under GCQ and MGCQ shall be allowed without age restrictions subject to an RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test-before-travel requirement for those below 18 years old and above 65, and other protocols and restrictions as may be imposed by the DOT and the LGU of destination,” he said.