Novato protesters say mask and vaccine mandates infringe on their freedoms

A small group of protesters in Novato are pushing back against mask mandates and vaccines.

They are upset some businesses may not let them inside without proof of vaccination.

Activists posted yellow flyers on the doors and windows of businesses on Grant Avenue late Wednesday night. 

Part of the poster reads: "The people who kept you in business are the ones you’ll be banning."

Protesters say vaccine and mask mandates infringe on their freedoms.

"I believe in freedom and forcing people to take vaccine is against freedom," a man named Michael said. "We are fighting for what we believe is right. And if you don’t give the government pushback, then they will take even more."

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As she hung up posters, Susan Balm of Novato added: "We’re people. We’re customers. We kept you in business through this last year when other people were being scaredy cats staying at home and you need to be vaccinated to come in your store?" 

Some demonstrators said they are worried about taking the vaccine because they feel the side effects or long term effects could be dangerous.

They warn of economic consequences, saying business owners will lose customers. Some say they plan to boycott businesses that screen customers.

Other Novato residents completely disagree with the anti-maskers. 

"I think the idea is that we have to be as safe as possible," said Randy Couvillon. "Nobody knows what it’s like even a year and a half later to continue with this pandemic. I respect that they are voicing their opinions but it’s a complication we don’t need."

In recent weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced new mask and vaccine mandates This includes required vaccines for health care workers, universal masking at schools, and vaccines or regular COVID tests for teachers.

The California Department of Public Health now recommends wearing a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status because of the rise of the delta variant.

Johns Hopkins University data shows daily virus cases are nearly doubled what they were last summer, and wearing a mask is an extra layer of protection to prevent another fall surge. 

If vaccination rates in a community are below 70%, they recommend wearing a face covering in indoor public places or crowded outdoor gatherings.

The No. 1 recommendation, however, will always to be to get vaccinated, according to local and national health experts.