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Hundreds of people who oppose vaccine mandates rallied in a downtown Los Angeles park on Monday, the same day that new proof of COVID-19 vaccine rules took effect.
The “March for Freedom” at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles was organized by Firefighters4Freedom, a firefighter group that claims vaccine mandates are unconstitutional, FOX11 Los Angeles reported.
Demonstrators included firefighters, law enforcement and community members – many of whom could lose their jobs if they don’t get fully vaccinated by the city’s Dec. 18 deadline.
People attend a rally held to protest the city’s new vaccine mandate in Los Angeles Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Protesters told the station that they’re against vaccine mandates, and are not anti-vaccine.
“We shouldn’t be forced to take this vaccine,” a protester told the station, adding that her husband and some of his co-workers were willing to lose their job rather than get the vaccine.
People listen to a speaker at a rally held to protest the city’s new vaccine mandate on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles firefighter Scott Tomlin also said that he is also willing to lose his job over the mandate because he’s “not prepared to lose my life over it.”
On Monday, a new measure aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus took effect, requiring patrons of the city’s thousands of businesses to show proof of their vaccination status.
Three women practice yoga to "peacefully" protest the city’s new vaccine mandate at a rally in Los Angeles Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
“These rules are in place to keep Angelenos safe, and help us get the economy back to full strength as quickly as possible,” Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said in a statement. “We are committed to working closely with local businesses, so that they have the information and resources they need to better protect their workers and customers.”
The new rule covers businesses ranging from restaurants to shopping malls and theaters to nail and hair salons.
Customers with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations require negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entry to 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 be given a warning at first and fined $1,000 for a second offense. Additional violations will mean increased fines.
Among Los Angeles County’s roughly 10 million people, 80% of eligible residents have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 71% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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