Abu Dhabi issues new safety rules for reopened cafes and restaurants

Establishments must limit capacity to 40%, among other regulations

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Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes outside shopping malls in Abu Dhabi have been issued new safety guidelines to allow more dine-in guests.

Authorities have established rules businesses must follow to operate safely, including limiting establishments' capacity to 40 per cent, up from 30 per cent.

People above the age of 60, children under 12 and those with chronic diseases should be prevented from entering.

All staff must be tested for Covid-19, and if any employees show symptoms they must immediately be taken to the nearest screening centre.

If a food handler contracts the virus, the establishment should be closed, according to the rules set by the Department of Economic Development.

No more than four people are allowed at each table, up from two, and waiting areas should remain closed.

Tables must be kept 2.5 metres apart.

Temperature checks should be carried out at the entrance for all staff and customers, and if anyone is found to have a fever, they should be denied entry.

Hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance to encourage patrons to disinfect on entry.

All buffets, open food displays, food samples, shared canapes and shisha are barred.

Metal cutlery can only be used if the cafe has a dishwasher capable of cleaning at high temperatures.

Otherwise, only single-use cutlery should be used. Before the new rules, restaurants could only use disposable plastic cutlery.

Restaurants and cafes outside shopping centres across Abu Dhabi began receiving dine-in guests in early May, after closing to in-house diners in mid-March to stem the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, food outlet managers said the gradual easing of restrictions would help their businesses to from the period when they were ordered to close or only allow deliveries.

Khalifa Al Dhaheri, co-founder of Cupital Cafe, said his business previously received about 50 customers a day between 8am and 10pm.

Mr Al Dhaheri said people would stay for many hours to work or study.

Khalifa Al Dhaheri, co-founder of Cupital Café, says customers have been reluctant to spend as much time in the cafe as they used to. Courtesy: Khalifa Al Dhaheri

The cafe reopened for dine-in guests on Sunday but he said capacity had yet to reach 40 per cent.

“I think many people are still reluctant," Mr Al Dhaheri said.

“Previously, when people walked into coffee shops they felt relaxed and chose where to sit.

"Now, from the minute they enter, they have to get their temperature tested and their hands sanitised.

“They also need to look for available space that is far from other occupied tables.

"We already had plenty of space but some may want to stay extra far from others to feel secure.”