Foes of vaccines and mask mandates protest at the state Capitol
The people who gathered in Tallahassee want lawmakers to ban all vaccination and mask mandates, whether they come from government or private businesses.
About 300 opponents of mask and COVID-19 vaccination mandates rallied Wednesday at the state Capitol as lawmakers prepare to meet this month in a special legislative session.
Gov. Ron DeSantis last week called the special session to start Nov. 15 to push back against White House attempts to require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The session will focus on efforts to prevent schools, businesses and governmental entities from imposing vaccination mandates and other pandemic restrictions.
But the people who gathered Wednesday at the Capitol want lawmakers to go further by banning all vaccination and mask mandates, whether they come from government or private businesses.
“People have lost it. They are done. They are done with the COVID tyranny,” said Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican who is a prominent critic of mandates. “They want their lives back and society’s lives back. So, as these voices get louder, I think you are going to see some ears perk.”
Sabatini has filed a bill (HB75) that would prohibit COVID restrictions at the state, county, and municipal levels. These would include mask mandates, requiring proof of vaccination, and the ability for business to refuse service due to vaccination status.
Mask mandates in schools and government-imposed vaccination requirements have become political flashpoints, with DeSantis and other Republican leaders sharply criticizing President Joe Biden’s approach to the pandemic.
Democrats this week expressed opposition to the special session, saying lawmakers should instead be looking into issues such as preventing another deadly COVID-19 surge, inequalities in vaccine distribution and problems with the state unemployment system.