The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) allowed some restaurants, cafeterias, and coffee shops operating outside shopping malls in Abu Dhabi, to reopen their doors to customers after verifying their compliance with precautionary measures and guidelines needed to ensure consumer safety. The move, which was made in coordination with Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), comes in line with ADAFSA's efforts to ensure food safety under the current circumstances of COVID-19, and maintain the continuity of food services in a safe environment promoting the safety and well-being of the community.
In this regard, Dr. Mohammed Salman Al Hammadi, Director of ADAFSA's Legislation Division, said: "In coordination with our partners, ADAFSA has previously set several preventive measures for owners and workers of these facilities. These include requiring the facility's workers to get tested for COVID-19 to ensure they are virus-free, operating at a maximum 40% of the facility's capacity, and maintaining at least 2.5 meters social distancing between tables and closing waiting areas."
According to Al Hammadi, each table should only have four people, body temperature of all customers should be checked before entering the facility, buffet table, reception and hookah services are still prohibited, and requiring the facility's workers and customers to wear face masks and gloves as long as they are inside the facility.
If a worker is confirmed infected with COVID-19, the facility must stop its operations, then directing all workers to the nearest healthcare center for conducting the needed checks to ensure they are virus-free, Al Hammadi clarified. He added that those facilities should clean and sanitize all surfaces, equipment, chairs and tables after each use, as well as cleaning toilets regularly throughout the day.
Al Hammadi noted that placing hand sanitizers at entrances, using single-use cutlery unless there are thermal dishwashers, and banning visitors aged over 60 years, children who are below 12 years old, and individuals with critical diseases from entering the facility are among the precautionary measures set for restaurants and cafeterias. Moreover, working hours of those facilities should be consistent with the timings set by the National Sterilization Program.
"In cooperation with Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, ADAFSA has designed a page in the food facilities' accounts on its website, calling on them, through SMS, to enter their employees' data into this page. This enables workers of food facilities willing to resume their activities to conduct COVID-19 testing for free," he said.
In addition, ADAFSA has carried out extensive inspection campaigns to ensure the compliance of all food facilities with all precautionary measures, to promote food and consumer safety, Al Hammadi further added.
Al Hammadi urged all consumers to comply with instructions of the concerned entities and facilities' management, follow the preventive measures, avoid accompanying children and elderly people when shopping, complete shopping quickly as possible, wear face masks and gloves, and sanitize their hands before entering and when leaving the facility.
Furthermore, he called on consumers to follow ADAFSA's official accounts on social media, to get acquainted with precautionary measures to combat COVID-19 and mechanism for handling food safely under the current circumstances.