Personal air purifiers now required in Cebu commercial establishments

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Cebu (CNN Philippines, September 13) — Workers in commercial establishments in Cebu province are now required to wear personal air purifiers aside from face masks and face shields.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia issued Executive Order No. 41 which covers workers in restaurants and other similar establishments, as well as personal care shops like spas, salons, and barber shops.

The executive order also requires establishments to have room air purifiers with high efficiency particulate air filter and ionizer. It also mandates disinfection after business hours.

All establishments are also required to secure a “Certificate of Compliance“ from the provincial government before they are allowed to operate.

However, the new rules did not sit well with some as it is an added burden to workers who are already struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, AMA Sugbo-KMU chairperson Jaime Paglinawan urged the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment to “intervene” against the “air purifier” requirement.

Paglinawan said the personal air purifier requirement is just an added expense for the workers. If the provincial government insist on requiring these, they should spend for it, not the workers, he added.

The labor group suggested that the government instead focus its resources on a much faster vaccination program, efficient contact tracing, free treatment for COVID-19 positive workers, and cash aid.

The province - which is currently under general community quarantine - has also required public utility drivers and conductors to wear personal air purifiers aside from face masks and face shields.

The Health department already pointed out that necklace air purifiers offer no protection against COVID-19 and could lead to complacency and a false sense of security.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Final Word, chemist Pinky Tobiano also emphasized that air purifiers only function to "purify air," and not to kill any type of virus. She added such devices may be a vector for the coronavirus when not regularly cleaned.

Others available in the market - like UV lights and misting devices - may work, according to Tobiano. But for the latter, substances that effectively kill viruses should be used, she added.

Given there are also studies that say COVID-19 is airborne, Tobiano said smoke disinfection is also effective since this stays in the air for 7-14 days.

CNN Philippines digital producer Bamba Galang contributed to this report.