Coronavirus: Shisha cafes shut down in Dubai for breaching Covid-19 regulations

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Almost 150 shisha cafes in Dubai have been either closed or fined for flouting safety regulations designed to protect customers from potentially contracting Covid-19 or selling out-of-date flavoured tobacco.

A ban on serving shisha at cafes and restaurants – that was in place since March – lifted last month but with safety measures in place to protect customers.

On Sunday, Dubai Municipality said it carried out 1,228 spot-checks and found that 89 per cent were in compliance but took swift action against those in breach of new regulations.

The breaches led to the closure of eight cafes while 133 were fined.

The most serious offences were the use of expired honey flavoured tobacco products, operating without a licence and allowing under-18s into lounges to smoke.

“Since the reopening of places designated for shisha smoking in cafes, the municipality has been keen to intensify inspection campaigns and visits to ensure the highest level of compliance,” a municipality spokesman said.

“Inspectors detected a set of violations committed by cafes, such as a failure to adhere to precautionary measures related to confronting coronavirus.”

Compulsory electronic payments, social distancing, hand hygiene and limiting visitors to three hours inside cafes were some of the measures brought in to reduce the coronavirus risk.

Others included an insistence on single use pipes, so shisha cannot be shared by more than one person at a time, with devices washed and sterilised between use.

Coronavirus outbreak

The municipality said other common offences included a failure of service employees to wash hands before and after serving customers or to measure the temperature of anyone visiting the establishment.

Guidelines state all parts of the shisha, including pipes, must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each user.

An isolation room must be provided for anyone with suspects symptoms under direction from Dubai Health Authority.

More than five people at a time are not allowed per table with gatherings and parties banned.

Elsewhere, shisha cafes in Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman have also reopened.

On Sunday, 225 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the UAE, bringing the country's total to 62,525.

A further 357 people recovered from the virus resulting in an overall total of 568.

How cafes are keeping shishas clean during the Covid-19 outbreak:

Tito Al Ghanaima prepares shisha at Orkied Cafe. Single use pipes must now be used by customers to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Tito Al Ghanaima places coals on the tobacco-filled shisha bowl at Orkied Cafe. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Tito Al Ghanaima uses a device to start the shisha for a customer. Previously staff would take a few puffs from the pipe to get the tobacco burning but this practice has been ceased amid the outbreak. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Shisha pipes must be taken apart and completely sanitised before use under safety measures imposed by the government. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Tito Al Ghanaima assembles as shisha pipe for a customer after sanitising each part of the hookah for safe use. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Tito Al Ghanaima pokes holes in the foil covering the shisha bowl, which contains tobacco. The pipe must be taken apart and completely sanitised before each use. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Tito Al Ghanaima cleans the vase, or base, of a shisha pipe before assembling the hookah for a customer at Orkied Cafe. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Updated: August 9, 2020 05:27 PM

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