Cleaning up in rush to reopen

CLEANING companies in Bahrain are rushed off their feet as sheesha cafés and restaurants prepare to open dine-in facilities on Saturday after more than seven months of closure.

MPs say they have received numerous complaints from owners upset at the prices they are being charged but the service providers say the work they are facing is much tougher than a normal spring cleaning – and supply and demand is playing its part.

“Sheesha cafés and dine-ins at restaurants have been shut down for more than seven months so it is not just a case of dusting and vacuum cleaning but also sanitisation, disinfection and pest control, amongst other needs,” said Bahrain Parliamentary Bloc president MP Ahmed Al Salloom, who is also Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board member.

“In all cases, booking cleaning companies and getting appointments during this week is putting pressure on the service providers and making it more expensive than normal.”

The big opening date coincides with the Spanish El Classico between Barcelona and Real Madrid – a huge attraction for football fans who like to enjoy their sheesha as the drama on the pitch unfolds.

Even with social distancing in place, it will guarantee a much-needed boost to the sector, believes Mr Al Salloom, who is also recontesting for the post of chairman of the financial and economic affairs committee in Parliament.

“The El Classico match should help make up some of the losses that the cafés and restaurants have incurred since March,” he said.

“Everyone is eager to reopen and from inspecting some outlets myself, there is a commitment amongst managements, employees and customers to return in safety and savour the atmosphere.”

MP Mamdooh Al Saleh, who is ex-chairman of the services committee, said that Saturday’s reopening, hopefully without further delay, will show the world that Bahrain is back in business after the Covid-19 crisis, a timely reminder just a few weeks before hosting two F1 races.

“Reopening closed outlets is a priority as it means somehow normal life is starting to return as the country prepares to host an F1 double-header for the first time,” he said.

“There are also National Day celebrations to mark and many expats will be staying to enjoy Christmas with their families here in Bahrain rather than risk travelling back home to Europe.

Although the future looks brighter, it’s not the first time outlets have prepared for a reopening. The same happened last month when the original date of September 24 was announced before being pushed back as numbers of Covid-19 cases in the kingdom suddenly skyrocketed.

Sheesha outlet owners’ spokesman Fouad Al Nakkal said he alone spent BD100 on cleaning his café in Sitra last month when the first date was announced, and the price had doubled this time round.

“Around 400 sheesha cafés, alongside hundreds of restaurants, all want to be ready by Saturday,” he said.

“The high demand has forced prices up as everyone wants their place cleaned in time.

“There are also a few owners who didn’t bother getting their outlets cleaned last month because a postponement of the opening date was expected due to the hike in the number of Covid-19 cases.”

Z Home Cleaning Company manager Rajesh Kumar said work on the closed outlets needed time and special attention, especially those that had been shut without cleaning for seven months.

“We are charging for the actual service, which is now BD200 taking in the average manpower required and special detergents,” he said. “Since Sunday we have cleaned two big restaurants and cafés in Adliya and the demand for our services is so great we cannot possibly meet all the requests.

“The highest hygiene standards have to be come into place, particularly during this pandemic, and we can’t rush things.”




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