Councils urge caution over post-lockdown Shisha use

14 July 2020

Shisha cafes in Brent and Harrow are being urged to be particularly cautious when welcoming customers, after concerns that the traditional practice of smoking shisha could help spread covid-19.

Many shisha cafes have been reopening in Brent after the government relaxed lockdown measures, and while there is smoke-free legislation in place to protect people from shisha-use, Brent Council wants to ensure that café owners are taking extra steps to prevent the spread of covid-19 and avoid putting people in harm’s way.

Smoking shisha typically involves burning charcoal and tobacco to produce smoke, which then bubbles through a bowl of water and into a hose-like pipe before it is inhaled through a mouthpiece at the end of the pipe. Users come together in groups to share a single pipe and exhale up to 100 litres of smoke per pipe, before it is then used by others.

Cllr Tom Miler, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Protection and Engagement, said:

“People from BAME backgrounds and smokers are both groups more at risk of Covid-19. Shisha cafés are likely to attract people with one or both of these descriptions, and when you consider the standing chances of transmitting the virus at a café, this can put you and your family at substantial risk.

“Usually you’d have smokers sitting close to each other for around an hour, all sharing a single pipe, with many hand-to-mouth movements before the pipe is then used by the next group, which is why we are asking café owners to cut out these risks and help stop the spread of the virus.”

Shisha café owners are being asked to:

  • Limit the numbers allowed into the café and maintain social distancing
  • Ensure customers wash hands before and after smoking
  • Thoroughly sterilise pipes after use
  • Use disposable mouthpieces/pipes
  • Ban sharing of pipes

Cllr Miller added:

“Given some of the issues around shisha cafes and the negative impacts on health, many may well question why the government chose to allow shisha cafes to reopen before gyms and swimming pools, but what’s important right now is that we all play our part to stop the spread of covid-19 and save lives.”

If you are aware of business in Brent of Harrow not following Covid-19 rules, please email