Muscat: January 17 was marked with special joie-de-vivre by shisha revellers in Oman as Hookah and Shisha cafes were allowed to resume from this day.
Most of the popular shisha cafes in the capital were full to the new socially-distanced capacity. As part of the activities allowed under the eighth package by the Supreme Committee, the resumption of shisha cafes was also subject to controls and requirements mandated under the current pandemic situation.
Muscat Municipality under whose remit falls this activity, stressed the necessity of provisioning hookah or shisha cafes with air purification systems. Another key stipulation was that these places can only be operated in open air spaces.
All paraphernalia for serving drinks, beverages or hookah must be for single-use only and sharing of hookahs with more than one person is strictly not permitted. Sharing of hookah pipe with multiple mouth-pieces, which is most-oft practiced is also a big no-go.
The cafes are allowed to operate with only half the capacity, and a distance of at least two meters is to be maintained between each table. Social distancing signs have to be visibly marked in common areas and also in service areas. Muscat Municipality has also advised all citizens and residents of the need to adhere to all mandatory precautionary measures such as wearing masks, and maintaining social distancing.
Ibrahim Al Harthy, a shisha aficionado, who booked a table well in advance at Address, a well-known shisha parlour by the Shati beachfront says he is thankful to the authorities for allowing this activity. “The weather demands a good shisha puff and when I look at this place now, and my fellow-revellers, I know I am not alone in sharing the sentiment.”