LARGE gatherings of people outside cafés and restaurants during Ramadan and next month’s World Cup have been banned.
Bahrain’s three municipal councils have ordered the three municipalities to remove all chairs and tables that are set up in the middle of the road, while referring owners of the outlets to the Public Prosecution.
The decision follows public complaints about people obstructing traffic and causing noise and disturbances.
However, the Capital Trustees Board has asked the Capital Trustees Authority not to take action unless there is a serious offence requiring intervention.
National Cleanliness Committee chairman and Northern Municipality director-general Yousif Al Ghatam said that municipal officials, backed by policemen, will remove the chairs and tables and slap fines on owners besides initiating legal action.
“Over the years we tended to be lenient, by just issuing warnings or fines to violators,” he said.
“But we now have orders to take action against improper use of public roads or spaces."
“We understand the nature of Ramadan and the upcoming World Cup with it being a very active period featuring large gatherings outside."
“However, public roads and spaces are not part of the businesses’ seating areas."
“Should there be customers we will slap owners with fines and refer them to the Public Prosecution and whenever we find a chance to remove chairs and tables we will do so."
“The cleaning company truck will confiscate them in the presence of municipal inspectors and policemen.”
Meanwhile, Capital Trustees Board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaie said he didn’t view violations during Ramadan and the World Cup as a nuisance.
“When asked if I wanted public roads and spaces cleared, I clearly told municipal officials that it was up to them,” he said.
“Unless roads are blocked or there are real complaints from the public, I don’t think any action is necessary."
“It is just people trying to have a nice time during an exceptional month.”
Southern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Ansari said cafés and restaurants in the Southern Governorate have already set up seats outside and in the middle of the road.
“The chairs and tables are set up and removed daily,” he said.
“On a normal day there will be about 30 people but during Ramadan and the World Cup the number is expected to go up to 300, posing a problem.
“We requested the owners to remove the tables and chairs but they told us that would not do so unless there was a court order and when municipal inspectors slapped them with fines they paid up because it is nothing compared to the profits they would be making over two months."
“Real action needs to be taken and we have been told that the chairs and tables would be confiscated daily.”