Covid: Sunrise hosts Natalie Barr, David Koch demand mandatory vaccines

Channel Seven has made the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all staff members on breakfast show Sunrise after co-hosts Natalie Barr and David ‘Kochie’ Koch refused to work with unvaccinated hair and makeup artists.

The anchors took a stand on the issue after a Covid scare last month put everyone on set – including pregnant newsreader Edwina Bartholomew – at risk.

They joined other senior figures at Sunrise, including Bartholomew and executive producer Michael Pell, in successfully lobbying for mandatory vaccines for crew members in a move that could set a precedent for the Australian TV industry.

There was particular concern about unvaccinated freelancers working for different shows across Sydney bringing the virus to ‘Brekky Central’, reports The Australian.

Taking a stand: Channel Seven has made the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all staff members on breakfast show Sunrise after co-hosts Natalie Barr (left) and David 'Kochie' Koch (right) refused to work with unvaccinated hair and makeup artists

Taking a stand: Channel Seven has made the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all staff members on breakfast show Sunrise after co-hosts Natalie Barr (left) and David ‘Kochie’ Koch (right) refused to work with unvaccinated hair and makeup artists

These fears were compounded by the fact Bartholomew, 38, is expecting her second child, and Koch, at 65 years old, is in a vulnerable age group for Covid-19.

Barr, 53, also reportedly raised concerns because she has teenage sons, while Pell escalated the matter with Seven management on behalf of concerned staffers.

The media is considered ‘essential work’ during Covid and social distancing can be particularly challenging for those working on live TV – which means vaccine mandates will likely soon become industry standard.

However, Seven’s move towards mandatory vaccines has apparently ‘attracted private grumbles from at least one Sunrise [staffer]’ who is unvaccinated and therefore unable to work on the show. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Seven for comment. 

Bold move: They joined other senior figures at Sunrise, including newsreader Edwina Bartholomew and executive producer Michael Pell, in successfully lobbying for mandatory vaccines for crew members in a move that could set a precedent for the Australian TV industry. Barr is pictured with a Sunrise crew member

Bold move: They joined other senior figures at Sunrise, including newsreader Edwina Bartholomew and executive producer Michael Pell, in successfully lobbying for mandatory vaccines for crew members in a move that could set a precedent for the Australian TV industry. Barr is pictured with a Sunrise crew member

Risk: There was particular concern about unvaccinated freelancers working for different shows across Sydney bringing the virus to 'Brekky Central'. Executive producer Michael Pell (left, with former Sunrise co-host Sam Armytage) escalated the matter with Seven management on behalf of concerned staffers

Risk: There was particular concern about unvaccinated freelancers working for different shows across Sydney bringing the virus to ‘Brekky Central’. Executive producer Michael Pell (left, with former Sunrise co-host Sam Armytage) escalated the matter with Seven management on behalf of concerned staffers

Sunrise had a Covid scare on the morning of Friday, August 27, after a crew member tested positive for the virus overnight, after working at Seven’s Martin Place studios for three consecutive days.

Bartholomew went into self-isolation because she was a close contact of the confirmed case but thankfully returned a negative test result.

‘Hello and welcome to Friday, everyone. And we join you after a Covid-19 scare of our own overnight; a staffer tested positive,’ Barr said at the start of the program.

Scare: Sunrise had a Covid scare on the morning of Friday, August 27, after a crew member tested positive for the virus overnight, after working at the Seven's Martin Place studios for three consecutive days. The studio was deep-cleaned by cleaners in protective clothing

Scare: Sunrise had a Covid scare on the morning of Friday, August 27, after a crew member tested positive for the virus overnight, after working at the Seven’s Martin Place studios for three consecutive days. The studio was deep-cleaned by cleaners in protective clothing

‘The studio has been deep-cleaned. We’ve all been tested. Everyone here is OK,’ she added, as footage aired of the studio being cleaned by a person in a hazmat suit.

‘Eddy is a close contact so she’s isolating but is all right. And Kochie was already having the day off so Michael Usher is here. We’ll have more details on that later.’

The Covid-positive employee was fully vaccinated, asymptomatic and a ‘close contact’ of another case unrelated to Seven, the network confirmed at the time.

Earlier that month, Barr and Koch, 65, had their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on air.

Bartholomew is also vaccinated, and has encouraged other pregnant women to get the jab.

Scare: Edwina Bartholomew, who is pregnant with her second child, went into self-isolation as a close contact of the confirmed case but thankfully returned a negative test result

Scare: Edwina Bartholomew, who is pregnant with her second child, went into self-isolation as a close contact of the confirmed case but thankfully returned a negative test result

Seven had already raised the possibility of a vaccine mandate in a staff email sent out a week before the Covid scare on set of Sunrise.

The network canvassed its employees’ views in an internal survey, which read: ‘As the Covid Delta strain gathers momentum, talk is turning to whether or not vaccination should be mandatory for staff.

‘Before Seven makes a decision, we want to understand your views.

‘To obtain your input, we have designed a brief survey which you can access here. It is confidential and should take no longer than 30 seconds to respond.’

Staff on several Seven programs are already receiving three Covid tests a week and complying with Covid-safe measures.

Inevitable: The media is considered 'essential work' during Covid and social distancing can be particularly challenging for those working on live TV - which means vaccine mandates will likely soon become industry standard. Pictured: Seven's Martin Place studios

Inevitable: The media is considered ‘essential work’ during Covid and social distancing can be particularly challenging for those working on live TV – which means vaccine mandates will likely soon become industry standard. Pictured: Seven’s Martin Place studios 

At the time some employees were said to be concerned about their future at the company if a ‘no jab, no job’ policy were to be implemented, reported TV Blackbox.

However, a spokesperson said no decision had been made on mandatory vaccines.

‘We are not proposing mandatory vaccines. We’re gathering the views of our staff, which is the fair and responsible thing to do,’ the representative said on August 20.

‘The survey closes COB today, so it’s premature to speculate what might happen. We will absolutely be guided by what our people want. 

Survey: Seven had already raised the possibility of a vaccine mandate in a staff email sent out a week before the Covid scare on set of Sunrise. The network canvassed its employees' views in this internal survey, which was leaked to industry website TV Blackbox

Survey: Seven had already raised the possibility of a vaccine mandate in a staff email sent out a week before the Covid scare on set of Sunrise. The network canvassed its employees’ views in this internal survey, which was leaked to industry website TV Blackbox

‘We will share the results of the survey with staff and whatever happens from there will be in consultation with our staff.

‘The health and safety of our staff is our number-one priority at all times.’

Mandatory vaccines have been a topic of debate at workplaces, with the government leaving the decision in the hands of employers.

Airline Qantas and food-processing company SPC have announced they will be making vaccination compulsory for their staff.

Mandate: Mandatory vaccines have been a topic of debate at workplaces, with the government leaving the decision in the hands of employers. Airline Qantas and food-processing company SPC have said they will be making vaccination compulsory for their staff

Mandate: Mandatory vaccines have been a topic of debate at workplaces, with the government leaving the decision in the hands of employers. Airline Qantas and food-processing company SPC have said they will be making vaccination compulsory for their staff

Meanwhile, Seven is facing another vaccine-related PR issue at the moment after reporter Denham Hitchcock last month suffered an extremely rare side effect linked to the Pfizer jab.

He spoke about his hospitalisation with pericarditis – a rare condition when the sac-like tissue surrounding the heart becomes inflamed – in a lengthy Instagram post that soon became a flashpoint for anti-vaxxers.

While Mr Hitchcock insisted he wasn’t anti-vaccine, he was reportedly instructed by Seven management last week to tone done his social media commentary about the jab because it included too much ‘editorialising’.

Side effect: Seven is facing another vaccine-related PR issue at the moment after reporter Denham Hitchcock last month suffered an extremely rare side effect linked to the Pfizer jab

Side effect: Seven is facing another vaccine-related PR issue at the moment after reporter Denham Hitchcock last month suffered an extremely rare side effect linked to the Pfizer jab


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