Stock Sharjah Skyline, Al Khan Lagoon
The Sharjah skyline. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sharjah: Sharjah City Municipality has directed all food establishments in the emirate to ensure that their workers get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.

There would be exemptions for those vaccinated under the national vaccination programme and volunteers in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines, and whoever has an asterisk or letter E in Al Hosn App. Stickers must be displayed to show that the workers have taken the vaccine or has a negative PCR test.

The civic authority has intensified inspection visits at food establishments to ensure their compliance with the health requirements for provision of services, and the precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The municipality stressed on the preventive measures that should be taken at the food establishments such as keeping social distancing of at least two metres between dining tables, and not allowing more than four people at a table unless they are from the same family.

Thabit Al Turaifi, Director General of Sharjah Municipality, said that the municipality has been monitoring and raising awareness in limiting the spread of the pandemic by establishing preventive health controls for food establishments since the start of the pandemic. These are constantly updated to be in line with government directives issued in this regard.

Additional measures

Shaikha Shaza Al Mualla, Assistant Director General of the Public Health Sector and Central Laboratories, explained that these measures follow previous preventive measures that the municipality had circulated to food establishments. These measures include the necessity for workers and customers to wear masks and measure the temperature before entering, and to oblige workers to wash hands with soap and water in a regular manner.

The establishments must stop anyone who shows any symptoms of respiratory infection from work and direct him to the nearest health centre to conduct the examination. They are to then sterilise the facility. In general, the food establishments must sterilise surfaces constantly, use disposable tableware such as single-use cups and dishes, and not allow open buffet or self-service in restaurants, and adhere to all health requirements and food safety.

Al Mualla said that inspection visits to these establishments will continue to ensure their commitment to implementing all preventive and precautionary measures and to educating workers about all of them.

More inspections

Dr. Amal Al Shamsi, Director of the Public Health Department, stated that during the past year, the inspection teams of the food Control Department carried out more than 43,193 inspection visits to food establishments such as restaurants, bakeries, cafeterias and others, which were audited based on clear standards developed to cover all aspects such as methods of preparation, and preservation of foodstuff. The standards also included other requirements such as those related to the cleanliness of the facility, equipment, tools, and others.

Omar Al Muhairi, Head of the Food Control Department, noted that the inspectors also made sure that all establishments took the preventive and precautionary measures set by the municipality and followed up on the sites that deliver and transport food. He emphasised the need to sterilise the internal and external surfaces of the food preservation and transport units repeatedly during the day and to wash hands continuously. The delivery workers must wear masks and gloves and replace the gloves after each delivery.