Adelaide Hills winemaker Bird In Hand has become the first winery to mandate that all visitors will need to be vaccinated.
The winery announced the decision on social media last week, with Founder Andrew Nugent explaining that the mandate will come into effect on the date that all Bird In Hand staff will be fully vaccinated. Currently, the Bird In Hand cellar door and restaurant have been closed since September 2020, while extensive renovations are completed.
Nugent wrote: “To protect the health and wellbeing of our family, staff, guests, and the wonderful Bird In Hand community, we intend to be a completely vaccinated winery by November 15, 2021.
“A double dose of the vaccination will be required on entry. Let’s help ourselves, our friends in lockdown in the eastern states, our wine, food, hospitality, and tourism partners by getting this done.”
While such rules are expected to be implemented in varying ways across different venues nationwide, public announcements have not been very widespread as yet. By doing so, Bird In Hand joins a handful of trailblazing businesses setting precedents when it comes to vaccinations.
Because of this, the Bird In Hand social media posts attracted a lot of attention, with over 6000 comments on Facebook coming from people on both sides of the vaccination debate.
Nugent thanked everyone for their comments and said he appreciated all responses and wished everyone well, regardless of their difference in opinion.
He wrote in a comment: “Adverse times can be challenging. It is an individual choice to be vaccinated. It is also a right and responsibility for individuals to be able to do what they believe to be in the best interests of their own personal environments.
“It is clear that the delta strain is now endemic in Australia. The decision has been made to help this community reduce death, pressure on our hospital system, loved ones dying alone, mental health issues, suicide, depression, domestic violence, and the socio-economic shock of longer, more frequent lockdowns.”
A further comment by Nugent following this read: “It has been a healthy discussion. We urge everyone to show unity and respect for those who may not share the same views.”
The ABC has reported that although Bird In Hand is the first winery to publicly announce a vaccine mandate, the topic is front of mind for many venues right now. Speaking to ABC Radio, Adelaide Hills Wine Region President, Jared Stringer (who is also CEO of The Lane Vineyard and former general manager of Bird In Hand), commended Bird In Hand for being “probably the first of many” businesses to mandate vaccination.
He also said it was a decision other wineries were currently considering, and said: “we obviously want to make sure that we’re offering a safe environment for everyone who comes to our businesses, whether that be for our staff or those customers.”