The UAE authorities are working on gradual resumption of economic activities across the country after more than two months of closure. In view of the efforts, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) recently announced gradual reopening of restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops working outside shopping malls in Abu Dhabi
In a circular issued by the department, precautionary measures have been specified in detail which the business owners are required to follow before reopening their business ventures to the public. The initiative has been taken by the ADDED in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority and following the directives issued by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) to tackle transmission of COVID-19 in the UAE.
According to ADDED Undersecretary Rashed Abdul Kareem Al Balooshi, the circular underlines the procedure for the step-by-step resumption of activities in the services sector and instructions for the business owners in a bid to ensure health and safety of the public and members of the society availing the services.
"We have successfully reopened shopping centres in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with the support of shop owners who adhered to the guidelines. The implementation of these instructions and guidelines is a condition that should be met to avail ADDED’s permit to welcome back shoppers," said Al Balooshi.
ADDED has laid out provisions for restaurant and cafe owners to ensure that sterilization procedures are undertaken at the workplace and only disposable single-use cutlery are used. However, establishments can use the same cutlery multiple times only if they have thermal dishwashers to ensure high-temperature sterilization. Hand sanitizers have to be kept at their main entrances to be used by every customer and employee.
According to the ADDED circular, all employees at the restaurants and cafeterias are required to undergo screening such they are virus-free before resuming work and they should wear masks and gloves while on duty. At the same time, capacity of restaurants has been limited to 40% with social distancing 2.5 meters to be maintained between workers and customers and sitting tables during the activities. Furthermore, waiting areas at the eateries will remain closed.
Restaurants and cafe owners have been asked to resume their business operations after following the directives specified in the instructional guide without any exemptions. Failure in complying with the instructions and safety measures will put the restaurants and cafe ventures at the risk of being exposed by inspection and supervision teams of ADDED and other related authorities.
Regular body temperature checks for workers, customers, guests, and visitors at entry points of the food outlets have to be ensured by the business owners. People will high temperatures should not be allowed to enter the restaurant or cafe. Moreover, all surfaces, utensils, and equipment have to be properly washed and sterilized by the facilities, along with regular cleaning of tables and chairs after every use.
Employees must be categorized into groups according to which their shifts and work hours will be divided to minimize overcrowding at the workplace. Capacity of employees working at the food preparation areas also has to be reduced. While regular business operations are allowed, buffet tables, reception, and shisha services will be prohibited according to the ADDED. At the same time, coughing, spitting, and smoking during work hours should be avoided by employees and card payments by customers should be encouraged to ensure less contact.
Food outlets are required to bring any employee showing any COVID-19 symptoms to the nearest healthcare centre for treatment. Additionally, they are required to shut down operations if a customer or employee has been infected with the virus. As per the circular, customers aged over 60 years, children aged below 12 years, and people with serious medical conditions should not be allowed to enter in the facility.
The aim of the circular issued by ADDED is to ensure that restaurants, coffee shops and cafeterias are following all health and safety protocols for smooth operations. Furthermore, the work hours of the food establishments must comply with the timings set by the National Sterilisation Programme.
Meanwhile, the UAE has reported over 43,000 Coronavirus infected cases, out of whom more than 29,500 people have recovered from the virus.