More than 200 food service establishments faced temporary closure in the past six months over violations of safety rules and Covid-19 measures, a top official with the Dubai Municipality told Khaleej Times.
Out of the 247 establishments in Dubai, 79 were shut for flouting Covid-19 regulations and 168 were reprimanded over non-compliance with food safety standards, said Sultan Ali Al Taher, director of food inspection at the Dubai Municipality.
The outlets, however, were allowed to reopen after following all corrective actions prescribed by the municipality, Al Taher explained.
“In six months, we have inspected 32,091 establishments. A total of 91 per cent of these venues, or 29,096, were found to be fully compliant with all standards set by the authority."
The closures are not a permanent measure, the official explained. “In some cases, the restaurants or cafes perform the corrective action in a matter of one day. We do not want people’s businesses to be affected. While the closure or end of operations is in immediate effect, as long as the corrective measures are implemented, the venues can reopen soon after."
In the case of critical or high-risk violations, the maximum closure time imposed on the food establishments is one week. “The response time from the health inspectors are fast and efficient,” Al Taher added.
Furthermore, the entire inspection cycle has been linked electronically with the licensing system of the emirate. “The inspection reports are sent directly to the owners of the establishment.”
How inspections are conducted
The Dubai Municipality inspects locations based on a grading system. “Food outlets are graded as per five categories — A, B, C, D and F — and most establishments aspire to have a Grade C or above,” said Al Taher.
Eateries with a higher grading system face fewer spot inspections. The municipality also reacts to complaints and tip-offs on its call centre 800900.
“On an average, we receive about 12 to 13 complaints a day. While many are small and insignificant complaints, a duty officer on-site goes over to the establishment immediately after.”
Al Taher said some of the most common complaints the municipality received amid Covid-19 were those related to social distancing and staff not wearing masks.
“In some cases, the establishments are not clean or there is a low level of personal hygiene,” he added, stressing that the protocols for inspections have not changed since May this year.
“We are very happy that food service establishments have taken it upon themselves to improve their services. Earlier, they were worried about the fines for not adhering to safety standards. Now, they are more interested in achieving a higher safety grade.”
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