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Hen of the Wood to Require Vaccination or Negative COVID Test for Patrons

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Hen of the Wood-Burlington in 2018 - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Hen of the Wood-Burlington in 2018
Hen of the Wood-Burlington held a staff meeting Thursday afternoon in response to an internal communication about employees working when they’re sick — and the subsequent backlash after that email ended up on social media.

The leaked email, which the company said was a miscommunication of its policy, said, in part: “If you feel sick with a cold and do not have coverage for your shift, you are expected to show up for work.”

The email went on to suggest that, in an effort to protect coworkers, “it might be better to wear a mask if you are contageous [sic] so others don’t get sick.”



That, in turn, led a number of people to register complaints about the restaurant with the Vermont Department of Health.

Twenty-nine staffers attended Thursday’s meeting, and the “overwhelming sentiment” was an expression of support and pride for their place of work, according to meeting notes provided by co-owner Eric Warnstedt.

They also got down to business. Effective immediately, if an employee is sick, they are to “please call out, period,” according to the meeting notes. “We don’t want anyone working sick, getting co-workers sick, or getting our guests sick,” the notes say.

The restaurant will make arrangements to cover for the employee.

In addition, the restaurant will now require guests to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result before dining at the restaurant, according to Warnstedt.  (The test must be taken within 72 hours of dining at the restaurant.) The majority of staff said they’d feel more comfortable with this policy, which will be in place by November 16.

In an email to employees sent earlier this week, in which Hen of the Wood clarified and elaborated on its COVID-19 policies, Warnstedt stressed the importance of vaccination and encouraged staffers to get booster shots.

“We believe vaccination is our strongest defense in controlling the virus and against serious personal illness,” he wrote. “We strongly recommend vaccination and also support personal choice along with personal responsibility.”