The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) recently issued a circular on the reopening of restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops operating outside shopping malls in Abu Dhabi along with the precautionary measures that must be taken before resuming their commercial activities. The move, which was made is in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food safety Authority, falls in line with the directives issued by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the UAE.
H.E. Rashed Abdul Kareem Al Balooshi, Undersecretary of ADDED, explained that the circular forms part of the procedures related to the gradual resumption of services sector activities, particularly of those that deal extensively with the public and members of the society, which requires setting clear guidelines and instructions to be followed by the owners of the concerned activities without exemptions in order to maintain the health and safety of the community.
H.E. Al Balooshi added: ‘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.”
H.E. the Undersecretary further pointed out that the stipulations have been laid down for the reopening of restaurants, coffee shops, and cafeterias after considering the ongoing sterilization procedures, ensuring that workers are virus-free, social distancing is maintained between workers and consumers, and the utilization of disposable single-use cutlery such as dishes and spoons. In addition, the instructions always demand that face masks and gloves be worn and replaced with new ones constantly. Furthermore, it limits the capacity of restaurants to 40 per cent.
H.E. Al Balooshi stated that the total number of licenses for restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops in Abu Dhabi amounted to 13,271, with 8,263 in the Abu Dhabi region, 2,602 in Al Ain and 492 in the Al Dhafra region.
He directed the owners of restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops operating outside the shopping centres in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to resume their commercial activities immediately after complying with all the conditions and instructions mentioned in the instructional guide without any exemptions. He pointed out that the failure to implement or follow any of these stipulated measures puts them at the risk of being exposed by inspection and supervision teams of ADDED and other related authorities.
ADDED’s circular stipulates that all workers at restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops should undergo screening to ensure they are free of COVID-19. Also, it states that the maximum capacity in restaurants, coffee shops, and cafeterias should not exceed 40 per cent and that they should observe the required distance of 2.5 meters between tables. Each table should only have a maximum of four people. The waiting areas should remain closed as well.
ADDED further emphasized on the importance of measuring body temperatures of workers, customers, guests, and visitors when entering their outlet and sterilizing the facilities by committing to washing and sterilizing all surfaces, utensils, tools, and equipment repeatedly during the day. Tables and chairs must also be cleaned and sterilized before and after consumers use them.
The circular orders the establishments to categorize or group their employees by shifts to minimize congestion during workhours. Further, it still prohibits buffet table, reception, and shisha services. The business owners are also mandated to check the body temperature of everyone entering their facilities, including visitors and staff, and refuse entry to those with high temperature.
In case of an employee showing any COVID-19 symptoms, ADDED directed the concerned outlet to bring the employee to the nearest healthcare centre for immediate treatment. The store should also follow the existing protocol of stopping its operations once a customer has been infected as well as continuously observe other relevant measures previously issued by relevant entities.
The department further emphasized that employees are required to wear face masks and gloves while on duty. Customers are likewise mandated to put on their face masks before entering and leaving the facility. The staff are also directed to fully clean and sanitize surfaces, equipment, and chairs and tables after each use, in addition to the regular cleaning of toilets throughout the day.
ADDED called on all owners to utilize single-use cutlery only. However, multiple use of cutlery is allowed if the facility has thermal dishwashers, which ensure high-temperature sterilization. The establishments should also place hand sanitizers at their main entrances, while avoiding direct contact between the staff members and visitors. Social distancing should be observed and floor stickers should be installed inside the stores as well.
ADDED has also stipulated reducing the number of employees simultaneously working in the food preparation area. All workers at the facility must wear face masks and put on gloves and constantly replace them with new ones. The circular further states the need to organize work by forming many groups to ensure social distancing in workplace.
Through its circular, the department underlined that the staff should follow good health practices, including avoiding coughing, spitting, and smoking during workhours as well as recommending card payments to visitors. According to the circular, visitors aged more than 60 years, children who are below 12 years old, and individuals with critical medical conditions regardless of their age are banned from entering the facility for their own safety. The work hours should be consistent with the timings set by the National Sterilization Program.