Shisha lounges step up safety measures to curb spread of virus

Shisha lounges and cafes are now using disposable hoses.

Shisha lounges and cafes are now using disposable hoses to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Other measures they’ve implemented in the light of the global pandemic, is washing down all surfaces completely before and after customer use, with all seating areas being kept clean and one meter apart.

A shisha, also known as hookah pipe, water pipe tobacco smoking and hubbly bubbly, is a form of tobacco consumption that involves the use of a single or multi-stemmed instrument to smoke flavoured or unflavoured tobacco, where smoke is designed to pass through water or other liquid before reaching the smoker, read a statement by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Sunday March 15 the President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, enforcing a travel ban as well as other measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

And more recently it was announced that all on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must be closed at 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 1pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Establishments may only open at 9am the next morning.

In addition to this, establishments such as restaurants and pub are allowed to accommodate no more than 50 people at a time, said Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Wednesday March 18, when the government gazetted strict new rules as part of the Disaster Management Act.

Police minister Bheki Cele said that restaurants may stay open after 6pm – as long as they did not sell alcohol.

Local shisha lounges have had implement new practices to ensure staff and clients are safe from infection.

Regional manager of Shisha Hut in Durbanville, Kyle Dekoning, said their branch was sanitising the hands of customers as they arrived.

They were also sanitising all equipment and using disposable hoses which the customers could keep or dispose of.

They are not using hoses that customers previously share between two or more people, he said.

They are a licensed liquor provider and they are abiding with the new regulations, ensuring that patrons remain one meter apart. To ensure this, they have had to remove some chairs and tables from their lounge.

“It is a very stressful situation for everyone and we may all be in a state of panic as business owners. We are being as cautious as we can be. Sometimes people are uneducated on Covid-19, such as wearing gloves which should be disposed of immediately after one use. I encourage all to do their research and follow the correct procedures,” said Mr Dekoning.

Co-owner at Al Diwan Restaurant and Shisha Cafe in Sea Point, Tinus Van Der Merwe, said they had put up notices at their cafe explaining the new by-laws and the importance of practising good hygiene.

They are making hand sanitiser available to all their customers and are sanitising and washing all their equipment, and use disposable pipes. They do not sell alcohol.

“We do not allow too many people inside. Our venue can take 70 people but we are allowing no more than 40 people inside. We are taking this very seriously as there are risks all around. However, this will heavily affect small businesses,” said Mr Van Der Merwe.

He said they were also communicating the new information, precautions and hygiene protocols on their social media platforms.