A restaurant in Springwood has decided to become a takeaway only venue to avoid the prospect of turning away regular customers and staff as the vaccine mandate comes into effect.
The owners of American Bourbon Bar and Grill said they have had sleepless nights worrying how they would respond to the mandate.
Co-owner Steven Holbert summed up his feeling in one word: “Stress.”
“Stress; like not sleeping three nights in a row,” he said.
Under Queensland health regulations (Schedule 1C), takeaway venues with minimal seating are exempt from vaccination entry requirements.
“As long as bar and dining room is decommissioned, we’re classed as fast-food takeaway,” Mr Holbert said.
“All of our staff are still employed and will still have a job.”
It’s a tricky business dilemma, with many who are in favour of the mandate boycotting venues known to be supporting an anti-mandate stance.
The Australian Medical Association head of council for general practitioners in Queensland, Dr Maria Boulton, was keen to ensure messaging about the purpose of the Covid-19 vaccine was not lost in the heated debate surrounding the mandate.
“Vaccines are known to reduce the risk of transmission,” she said.
“We also know that Covid vaccines are very effective at reducing the risk that you will end up in hospital.
“It’s also important for people to consider getting a booster, and for people with severe immunosuppressed, a third does is recommended.”
Ms Boulton also recommended people to consider wearing masks in public now that Covid-19 cases are rising locally.
Over the last five and a half years, Mr Holbert and wife Sunshine Dyer have built their American smokehouse into a popular destination.
He said he doesn’t like the thought of stopping someone from entering his premise based on a personal medical decision.
“We’re not here to take a stand, we just don’t feel it is right to discriminate against loyal customers who have supported us since we were open,” he said.
As a small business, local patrons are like family to them. They rely on them to stay afloat, and their capacity to recover losses would be far less than larger restaurants.
“We’re not police officers and not doctors. The extra staffing just to double check – small business cannot afford that,” Mr Holbert said.
Shutting up shop to become a takeaway is nothing new for the American Bourbon Bar and Grill.
“We’ll be able to stay afloat; ever since the first lockdown, we went with door dash and Uber Eats, and we haven’t stopped the takeaway side,” he said.
“This mandate can’t last forever, so we’re basically just going to take one day at a time.”