Ormoc City in Leyte and Catbalogan City in Samar are the first two cities in Eastern Visayas to lift the face shield requirement.
The local governments made the decision after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said mayors can scrap the mandatory use of face shields even without the national government’s approval.
Both cities have low COVID-19 cases.
Based on the latest data of the City Health Department of Ormoc, there are a total of eight active COVID-19 cases in Ormoc as of November 11.
Catbalogan has nine active COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, November 11, according to the city health office.
On November 8, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez signed an executive order allowing his constituents to enter business establishments like malls and banks without the need to wear face shields.
Gomez scrapped the use of face shields as a requirement for drivers and passengers of public utility vehicles such as tricycles and multicabs as early as September.
Ormoc continues to impose other restrictions, including swab, rapid antigen, and saliva tests for those who will enter the city via sea or air travel. Such requirements, however, will no longer apply to city visitors traveling by land.
Gomez reminded the public to wear face masks in indoor spaces and to continue to observe social distancing.
In Catbalogan City, Mayor Dexter Uy issued an executive order to discontinue the use of face shields as part of its protocol when entering public and private establishments.
Uy said that even with the removal of the requirement, the public must still follow the health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Catbalogan City is under the least strict modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
The cities of Tacloban and Baybay in Leyte, Calbayog City in Samar, Borongan City in Eastern Samar, and Maasin City in Southern Leyte have yet to announce new guidelines on the use of face shields.
Other local governments had earlier scrapped the mandatory use of face shields, following Año’s statement that they need not wait for the official position of the government’s coronavirus task force on the matter. These LGUs include the capital Manila, which only imposes the mandatory use of face shields in hospital facilities. – Rappler.com
Lance Lim is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.