Hundreds of people opposed to vaccine mandates gathered at a park in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, the same day the new evidence of COVID-19 vaccine rules took effect.
The “March for Freedom” at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles was hosted by Firefighters4Freedom, a firefighting group that claims vaccine mandates are unconstitutional, FOX11 Los Angeles reported.
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The protesters included firefighters, law enforcement and community members — many of whom could lose their jobs if they aren’t fully vaccinated by the city’s December 18 deadline.
Protesters told the station they are against vaccine mandates and are not against vaccines.
“We should not be forced to take this vaccine,” one protester told the station, adding that her husband and some of his colleagues were willing to lose their jobs instead of getting the vaccine.
Los Angeles firefighter Scott Tomlin also said he’s also willing to lose his job because of the mandate because he’s “not willing to lose my life for it.”
A new measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus came into effect on Monday, requiring patrons of the city’s thousands of businesses to demonstrate their vaccination status.
“These rules are there to keep Angelenos safe and help us get the economy back to full steam as soon as possible,” Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said in a statement. “We are committed to working closely with local businesses to provide them with the information and resources they need to better protect their employees and customers.”
The new rule applies to businesses ranging from restaurants to malls and theaters to nail and hair salons.
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Customers with religious or medical immunization exemptions require a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of entering those establishments. Customers without proof can still use outdoor facilities and can briefly enter a business to use restrooms or pick up food orders.
City officials are giving businesses until Nov. 29 to acclimate to the new rules before inspections and enforcement begin. Violators will receive a warning first and a $1,000 fine for a second violation. Additional violations lead to higher fines.
Of Los Angeles County’s roughly 10 million residents, 80% of eligible residents have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 71% of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated, public health officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.