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Since the reopening, the municipality intensified its inspection campaigns to ensure the highest level of compliance at shisha cafes. Image Credit:

Dubai: Dubai Municipality has closed eight shisha cafes and fined 133 of them for violations, mostly related to not following COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Violations since July 18 – when shisha cafes were allowed to reopen – included the use of expired honeyed tobacco products and allowing in persons under 18.

Since the reopening, the municipality intensified its inspection campaigns to ensure the highest level of compliance. A total of 1,228 inspection visits were carried out, with the compliance rate reaching 89 per cent.

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What were the violations

Municipality inspectors detected a set of violations committed by cafes during the period, such as failure to adhere to the precautionary measures related to COVID-19, especially with regards to not keeping the distance between people or tables, allowing overcrowding inside the cafes, non-compliance with hygiene practices – such as more than one person sharing a shisha – and the use of multiple-use pipes instead of single-use.

The list of violations also included use of expired honeyed tobacco products, providing shisha service without permit or an expired permit, ignoring the requirements for proper ventilation inside the cafes, failure to operate air conditioning systems, as well as allowing in persons under the age of 18 years inside the smoking areas.

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What rules must the cafes follow

The municipality obligated all cafes in Dubai to take precautionary measures that should be followed during the stage of reopening in the places designated for smoking and places for serving shishas. These measures include a commitment of the shisha service employees to wash hands before and after providing the service, measuring the temperature of the employees, workers, and visitors before entering the facility, and not allowing those who show symptoms of temperature above 37.5 to enter the site.

The facility’s management should allocate an isolation room, and establish procedures for dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, in addition to disinfection procedures, according to the directives of Dubai Municipality and Dubai Health Authority. All parts of the shisha, including pipes, must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each user.

Single use shisha pipes

The municipality stressed the need to provide single-use shisha pipes only. The shisha must be washed and disinfected deeply and the water used must be changed after each user, and it is not allowed to test the shisha by employees before offering to the customer, and the frequency of hygiene and disinfection must be increased in smoking areas.

The list of requirements also includes the necessity to provide containers at all main entrances and in common areas for medical waste such as masks and gloves, and to remove them frequently. Hand sanitisers must be provided in different areas of the cafe, which should provide ventilation systems and air purification according to Dubai Municipality requirements.

What about social distancing?

It should be ensured that a safe physical distance of two metres is maintained throughout the cafe restaurant or facility. It is needed to maintain a distance of two meters between each table and to limit maximum five seats per table in the smoking area.

Gatherings or parties are not allowed, and groups of more than five people are not allowed to be in the smoking area.

The precautionary measures include not allowing customers to be in the smoking area for more than three hours, ensuring that visitors sterilise their hands upon arrival, and using sanitised plastic plates, cups, or packages or that can be disposed of and individually wrapped.