Hospitality venues are making plans to reopen to the public in April. But can shisha pipes be served outdoors?

In February, the government has published a roadmap out of the current lockdown for England. This is a step-by-step plan to ease restrictions in England cautiously.

During Step 2 on April 12 outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in member’s clubs) can reopen.

However, official Government advice says these ‘Venues will be prohibited from providing shared smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.’ Following the move to Step 3 on May 17, further settings will be permitted to open including all restaurants. Also opening will be cinemas; theatres; concert halls; museums and galleries; adventure playgrounds and activities; amusement arcades and adult gaming centres; bingo halls; casinos; bowling alleys and skating rinks.

Spectators will be allowed at elite sporting events and performance events. Attendance at these events will be restricted to 50% of capacity up to 1,000 people for indoor events, and 50% of capacity up to 4,000 people for outdoor events.

However, Government advice still states that ‘Venues will be prohibited from providing shared smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.’ One Shisha café owner had planned to open on May 17 much like other restaurants and pubs.

He said: “This is a little surprising and must be a mistake. We had planned to open after Eid on May 17.

“Some venues have space outside and able to accommodate customers so I can’t see why this is not permitted from April 12?

“Does that means we may have to wait until June 21?

“We only opened for two months during the last summer and like many hospitality businesses have been closed ever since.”

In Step 4 the Government hopes to reopen ‘remaining settings such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, and to lift the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in Step 3’.

Manchester hosts the highest number of Shisha cafes and bars in the region with venues also located in Bolton, Preston and Blackburn. Cafes tend to serve food and drink as well as the Shisha - which is flavoured tobacco smoked through a pipe.

The British Heart Foundation says in a typical shisha session a smoker can inhale the same amount of toxins as a cigarette smoker consuming over 100 cigarettes.