Steamy Singapore says face shields no substitute for mandatory masks

A man wearing a protective face mask rides past in a bicycle at a housing estate amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Tropical city-state Singapore said on Monday it was curbing the use of face shields as a substitute for masks, as its residents look for ways to protect themselves from the coronavirus and avoid discomfort on hot, humid days.

The Southeast Asian nation is one of several states globally that have made masks in public compulsory, but transparent shields attached to headbands or glasses that do not touch the face have become a popular replacement.

Singapore is due to reopen schools and some businesses on Tuesday, the first tentative steps in emerging from a two-month COVID-19 lockdown.

“The design of face shields typically leaves a gap… Masks that are worn closely and completely over the nose and mouth do not have such gaps,” the health ministry said.

“With the re-opening of our economy and society, we can expect more activities and close contact amongst people, including on public transport. So masks will now be required as the default.”

Face shields would only be allowed for children under the age of 12, those who face medical difficulties wearing masks or persons speaking to a large group, such as in a classroom.

First-time offenders caught without a mask in Singapore are fined S$300 ($212).

Singapore confirmed 408 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its health ministry said, bringing the city-state’s tally to 35,292.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; Editing by Martin Petty