Shisha cafes will not be permitted to serve shishas until June according to government guidelines.

The Cabinet Office was contacted to clarify regulations after concerned business owners said their industry had been 'simply written off'.

The Cabinet office said in line with roadmap out of the current lockdown for England, restaurants will be permitted to serve food and drink outside from April 12. But the regulations concerning the serving of smoking equipment had not changed.

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

However, Government advice still states that ‘Venues will be prohibited from providing shared smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.’ 

The final step out of lockdown is June 21 when nightclubs and all other businesses are due to open.

A spokesperson for the Junoon Café said they were puzzled as to why Shisha cafes were being targeted in this way when they had gone to great lengths to ensure they were Covid safe. 

Oli Anderson from the Café said: "Junoon Cafe in Bradford is of the view that the Government's guideline's about the reopening of shisha cafes are arbitrary at best and discriminatory at worst. 

“There is no reason why cafes can't serve shisha if they follow the strictest safety precautions, such as using disposable shisha pipes, washing shisha equipment thoroughly, sticking to a one-shisha-per-person policy and adhering to other social distancing and hygiene policies.

“There seems to have been little cooperation between government decision makers and cafes to find a workable solution to this problem. Instead, they have simply written off this particular industry without thinking about the ramifications of their blanket decisions and their impact on local economies and lives.

“We'd like to see the Government work more closely with business owners to minimise job losses, keep businesses afloat, and allow cafes to provide a safe place for our target demographics to come together and socialise."

Another Lancashire based Shisha café owner told us, “Why would we open just to serve food and drink? Is there any evidence to suggest Covid is being spread more in shisha bars than other types of restaurants and even crowded shopping centres and concert halls?

“Many businesses like ours had been hoping to open up by at least May 17.”

Many 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.