Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Close eye on shisha cafes; 600 inspected in Dubai

The Gulf Today, 18 Aug 2010

Around 600 Shisha cafes across Dubai have been visited by the public health and safety officials of Dubai Municipality (DM) before the arrival of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
The inspections were carried out as part of the civic body's strategies to check the validity of such establishments' licenses and to ensure that they comply with the civic regulations on public health safety and hygiene requirements, a senior DM official said.
Redha Salman, Director of Public Health and Safety at the DM, indicated that the hygiene conditions in Shisha cafes especially the preparation area, sufficiency of ventilation and air conditioning, health cards of workers, and their uniforms, were on the agenda of the inspection campaign.
"The cafes should be operated only on ground floors, except in hotels. No Shisha cafes will be permitted to operate in classified residential areas. The shops should be set up in a minimum area of 1,500 square feet." he pointed out.
"Shisha cafes should also be 25 metres away from the entrances of buildings. At least 200 metre distance should be maintained from mosques, schools and other educational institutions," elaborated Salman.
According to him, the shisha shops should be licensed by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in addition to the permit from the public health department.
He said, "The cafe doors should be closed always, except for entry and exit of customers. Safety requirements including measures for prevention of inflammable materials like fire extinguishers should be installed at the shops. Emergency exit also should be provided to use in the events of causalities."
As per the regulations, the cafes should set up interior arrangements such as proper ventilation system that will help the public avoid exposure to passive smoking. Food serving and preparation areas should be also separated from the smoking area.
"The shop owners should also fix a message board at the entrance of the cafŽ, warning people under the age of 20 years not to use the facilities," noted Salman.
He urged owners of Shisha establishments to adhere to the rules and regulations in order to protect public health, thereby avoiding any legal proceedings to be initiated by the Municipality against the violators.
Two years ago, the DM had issued final orders to the owners of all Shisha centres operating in Dubai to relocate their premises to non-residential areas, promoting a smoke-free environment for the residents at restaurants and cafes.
Owners of coffee shops and restaurants were also subjected to stop the service of providing Shisha-smoking facility at their shops.
"The violating shisha outlets can be fined in the range of Dh5,000 to Dh40,000 as per the level of violations," said the Municipality.
(Photo used for illustrative purpose)

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