Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia continues ‘shisha’ ban, closure of restaurants’ play areas

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Saudi Arabia continues its ban on serving “Shisha” (Hookah) and closure of children’s play areas in restaurants and cafes across the Kingdom as part of the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus despite its phased re-opening plan coming into effect, according to the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA).

In Early March, Saudi Arabia had banned serving “Shisha” in all cafes and restaurants as a COVID-19 precautionary measures among other coronavirus-related restrictions. The authorities also imposed fines on and shut down establishments which violated the ban.

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The Kingdom had started at the end of May implementing its re-opening plan.

It shortened curfew, allowed the resumption of some economic activities, allowed performing group prayers in mosques, the return of public and private employees to work from their offices, the resumption of dine-in services in restaurants and cafes, the operation of domestic flights, among others.

The third stage of the Kingdom’s re-opening plan started on Sunday, June 21 which dictated that Saudi Arabia will return to “normalcy” in all areas in the Kingdom, except in Mecca, and restore conditions to how life was before implementing curfews.

The authorities continued to warn the public to adhere to all precautionary measures such as wearing a mask or face covering and practicing social distancing.

The MOMRA outlined guidelines for employees and customers in restaurants and cafes to come into effect starting on Sunday, including banning serving of “Shisha” and closing children’s play areas.

Other guidelines include:

A person must wear a face covering at all times inside food and beverage serving facilities at all times, unless they are eating or drinking in the designated areas.

Establishments must provide sanitizers in all places where food is served.

Plastic, paper and electronic menus are allowed, and using barcodes on a menu through a mobile phone is preferable to minimize how often customers touch menus.

Single-use or disposable plates, cups and eating utensils are preferable, otherwise traditional tableware must be cleaned properly and sanitized before re-use.

Employees of the establishment must be provided with cloth face masks/coverings, hairnets, single-use protective body suits.

Social distancing must be maintained in positioning serving tables, pickup areas, and waiting areas, to ensure a 1.5 meter distance between individuals. Members of one family can be treated as one individual and do not have to maintain a distance between each other.

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