Cyclists lament mandatory face shield rule

Cyclists have expressed dismay over the mandatory wearing of face shields in all public areas, a new regulation laid down by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to stem the number of COVID-19 cases.

In an Instagram post, broadcast journalist Howie Severino lamented the mandatory face shield rule after experiencing some difficulty cycling in public roads.

“After a few minutes of biking in the rain, my face shield had fogged over and I could barely see the road. If Covid won’t kill me, there are many ways to die with a face shield that offers zero visibility. When will QC follow Pasig, Iloilo and Baguio and exempt bikers from this dangerously moronic rule?” Severino said.

Sen. Pia Cayetano also shared the same sentiment. In a statement, the senator — who is also an avid triathlete — called on the IATF-EID to exempt cyclists from wearing face shields, concerned that these added headgears may cause accidents. “As a cyclist on the road, I know how important it is to be fully aware of your surroundings. A shield could drastically impair one’s vision and perception of space, which may lead to accidents,” Sen. Cayetano said.

IATF mandates wearing face shield 

According to Section 8 of the IATF Resolution No. 88 dated Dec. 14, “All persons are mandated to wear full-coverage face masks, earloop masks, indigenous, reusable, or do-it-yourself masks or other facial protective equipment whenever they go out of their residences.” This mandatory face shield policy applies to everybody, including cyclists and joggers.

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield, the enforcement arm of the IATF, reaffirmed the order as part of the heightened quarantine rules and protocols.  

“Ang general rule kasi outside residence dapat mayroon. Mag-stick tayo sa general rule na ‘yun. Kasi ang sabi niyan is DOH, kami naman is taga-enforce lang,” JTF commander Cesar Binag reiterated during a recent interview with CNN Philippines.

LGUs take different approach

However, some local government units have taken the liberty of exempting solo cyclists from the order, citing the risks it possesses while biking on the road.

In Valenzuela City, Mayor Rex Gatchalian issued Executive Order No. 2020-347 dated Dec. 21 stating that cyclists may opt not to wear face shields while riding. “So as not to impede mobility, productivity, and safety of the wearer, face shields may be temporarily lifted, set aside, or removed where the wearing of the same hampers, or causes hazard to the biker while biking alone in Valenzuela,” Gatchalian said in the memo.

In Pasig City, the local government announced on Facebook that it would be taking a similar ‘no face shield’ approach for bikers on the road. “Evidence shows and consultation among bikers reveals that biking while wearing a face shield is dangerous. Wearing a face shield obstructs view and makes breathing difficult. Meanwhile, biking naturally isolates riders from other commuters,” the Pasig City LGU announcement reads.

For Iloilo, the city council passed an Ordinance No. 2020-085 back in September that mandated wearing of face shields, but provided exemptions if wearing such impedes occupational safety and health. “I would like to reiterate our previous directive several months ago. Cyclists are not required to use face shields for their own safety in Iloilo City. Please be guided accordingly. Thank you,” said Mayor Jerry Treñas in a Facebook page.

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