While the use of masks remains mandatory, the Government will now restrict the usage of face shields to specific groups or circumstances starting Tuesday (2 June).
The Ministry of Health in a press release on Monday (1 June) said that only the following groups may wear face shields starting tomorrow:
- Children twelve years and below, who may have difficulty wearing and keeping face masks on for a prolonged period of time;
- Persons who have health conditions that may result in breathing or other medical difficulties when a mask is worn for a prolonged period of time; and
- Persons who are speaking to a group in a classroom or lecture-style setting where they largely remain at the spot from which they are speaking, and are able to maintain a safe distance away from any other persons.
MOH added that face shields may be worn in situations where “the wearing of masks may not be practical”.
“The face shields must be worn properly so that it covers the entire face, from the forehead to below the chin, wrapping around the sides of the face,” the Ministry added.
Face shields may be also worn on top of a mask under certain circumstances “to provide additional protection”.
“For example, wearing a shield can help to protect one’s eyes from droplets that may contain virus particles, and can also prevent the mask from getting wet.
“It may also help to stop people from adjusting their masks or touching their faces,” said MOH.
In all other instances, the Ministry said that the use of masks “that closely and completely cover the nose and mouth will be required as a default”.
The requirement, said MOH, is upheld as the economy and society reopens after the circuit breaker period, and “more activities and close contact amongst people, including on public transport” are anticipated.
Touching on the rationale behind continuing to mandate the use of masks but limiting the use of face shields, MOH said that as COVID-19 is spread predominantly through droplets, face shields, in contrast with masks, “typically leaves a gap between the face shield and the face”.
“Masks that are worn closely and completely over the nose and mouth do not have such gaps,” the Ministry added.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong however said that the Government “will continue to exercise flexibility in the enforcement of groups that may have difficulties wearing face masks”.
The ministry’s director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak said at a press conference on Monday evening that the decision was made on the basis of being “more cautious”.
“Face shields may continue to augment the use of masks, but mask-wearing will be the default,” he said.
Persons found guilty of not wearing a mask when leaving their residence may face a fine of S$300 for the first offence, and higher fines for subsequent offences. Egregious cases may face prosecution in court.
The wearing of face shields in lieu of masks in general was previously allowed during the circuit breaker period.
Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Lee Bee Wah was spotted wearing one in Parliament earlier last month, while West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har was seen wearing one while distributing face shields at Teban Market on 23 May.