WEARING of face shields or eye protectors in public transports will now be mandatory effective August 3, 2020, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced.
In a memorandum circular dated Saturday, August 1, drivers, conductors, and passengers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) in areas across the country under general community quarantine (GCQ) must wear a face shield or eye protector, on top of the mandatory wearing of face masks.
The circular also states that failure to wear a face mask and face shield or eye protector is reasonable ground to deny boarding the PUV.
The LTFRB memorandum also highlights the strict observance of basic measures such as social distancing in public terminals and designated PUV stops, strict compliance with the standard health procedures laid down in the previous issuances of the Board in line with public health protocols as required by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the avoidance of unnecessary talking or making calls while inside the PUVs.
LTFRB-Davao Director Armand Dioso told SunStar Davao in a phone interview that the memorandum circular of the mandatory wearing of face shield or eye protector will take effect immediately.
But he said they will give some leeways in its implementation in order to give ample time for the passengers and the motorists to secure a face shield.
For now, he said LTFRB will be conducting information dissemination to all drivers, conductors, and passengers for them to be aware of the new riding policy.
"Effective siya (This is effective) immediately, but we have given the people a chance, especially the public commuters to comply with the face shield," Dioso said.
"We can stick to the immediate implementation of the circular. But of course, we are now focusing on the dissemination on the memo circular," Dioso added.
"According to the presentation of the health experts, aside from face mask and social distancing, face shield gives 99.99-percent protection from getting exposed to Covid-19," he added.
As to the specific model or type of face shield, he said they do not specify, for as long as it will protect the eyes of the ones wearing it.
For people wearing glasses, Dioso said they are still urged to wear face shields. But he said, eyeglasses and shades fall under the category of an eye protector. He specified that a goggle type of eye protector is ideal.
Drivers who will fail to comply with the mandatory face shield will be fined with P5,000, he said.
Dioso also said passengers who will not wear face shields should be denied by PUV drivers.
He said they will also be coordinating with the Davao Region Covid-19 Task Force, as well as other security enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the local government units in implementing the policy.
The official, meanwhile, clarified the "whereas" provisions of the circular, wherein it stated that the provision will be implemented in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Dioso said areas under modified GCQ (MGCQ), including Davao City, are covered by the memo.
"Regardless of the status of the community quarantine, this is applicable," he said.
In the Department of Transportation (DOTr) memorandum dated August 3, Undersecretary for Administrative Service Artemio Tuazon Jr. directed all officials of transportation sectors to enforce the policy in areas where public transport has been permitted.
The memo states that wearing face shields will already be a must for everyone traveling via public transport beginning next week, August 15, 2020.
"As instructed by the secretary, this is to mandate all officials/heads of various transportation sectors to enjoin within their respective jurisdictions the mandatory wearing of face shields (aside from face masks) for ALL passengers in areas where public transportation is allowed, effective on 15 August 2020," the memorandum reads.
Dioso, as of Tuesday afternoon, said he has not received any DOTr memo, adding the issued LTFRB memo will be followed for now, unless amendments are issued in the following days.
Davao City Police Office Chief Kirby John Kraft, in a separate phone interview, said they have not yet received any DOTr guidelines, but he said they are willing to facilitate its implementation.
Transport Group Transmission-Piston (Piston) Secretary General Larry Arguelles, for their part, said that they are open with the policy if it will only be mandatory for passengers. But he said it will be dangerous for the part of the PUV drivers.
"Ako as driver, medyo hassel siya. Naa nay cellophane sa likod, although transparent mana, basin risky hinuon siya. Kay imbes ilikay niya sa disgrasya ang mga pasahero, mahimo na hinuong vulnerable kung i-apply ni siya (As a driver, I find it a hassle because there is already a cellophane barrier between the driver and passengers. Although the shield is transparent, it is risky. Because it might be vulnerable to accidents. That already defeats our mandate of ensuring that passengers are free from accidents)," Arguelles said.
He added that the measure should be studied first and observed before enforcing it on the ground.
Jessa Sumagaysay, a regular commuter, for her part, said that face masks are already enough, considering that the active Covid-19 cases in the city has become manageable in recent days.
But she said the public cannot do anything about it if the government will insist.
"I cannot judge [if the measure is] relevant, because every [quarantine status], naay mugawas na (there are new) requisites, leaving people with no choice," Sumagaysay said.
She also said there is a great possibility that the prices of the face shields would increase, due to its huge demand, same with the surgical face masks. (With Kiana Kimberly Flores, AdDU MassComm Intern)