A high-end Gold Coast restaurant has closed permanently after its owner refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Artichoke’s owner Grant Madgwick says he has had a long battle with a potentially deadly infection
- Under public health directions, hospitality staff must have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
- Mr Madgwick says he has not been able to secure a medical exemption
The owner of Sanctuary Cove’s Artichoke, Grant Madgwick, said he had been “too scared” to get vaccinated after suffering a fungal infection called Scedosporium prolificans for several years.
“I’m disabled, I’ve got two children that live with me and no job and I’m unemployable,” he said.
The 10-year-old venue was fined almost $7,000 on December 19 for failing to comply with the public health direction.
At the time, a spokesperson for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) said the venue had been repeatedly warned and asked to undertake a number of activities “including making all reasonable efforts to confirm patrons’ vaccination status”.
Artichoke had been ordered to close on December 22 until January 3 or until it complied with the public health direction.
An OLGR spokesperson said no further action had been necessary since then.
“OLGR and other agencies will continue to monitor compliance of businesses with public health directions,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Magdwick said he was “not anti-COVID”, but his attempts to acquire a medical exemption had been unsuccessful.
He said “just on the mental grounds” he was “too scared” and that he had undergone numerous hip replacements.
“I was in wheelchair for the last six years, in and out,” he said.
‘Can’t even go for a beer’
Mr Madgwick said Artichoke employed about 30 staff and lost thousands while it was closed during December and January.
“We were thriving, but this killed me — I’m broke,” he said.
“They closed a very successful restaurant.”
Mr Madgwick said he had been receiving hundreds of phone calls per day and could have have remained fully booked through to the end of February.
“People saying, ‘Go on, good for you,'” he said.
But Mr Madgwick said the immediate financial impact and his inability to work at his own business because of his inability to get a vaccine exemption had led to his decision to walk away.
“I can’t even go for a beer, I can’t go into the pub, can’t go to the restaurant,” he said.