LOS ANGELES — With the mask mandate soon to lift across California, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health says cases are still too high to relax the requirement. County officials said the mask and vaccination requirements remain the most effective tools in preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.
Still, one local effort is rallying support for a petition that calls for a full repeal of the vaccination mandate in the city of Los Angeles. That effort is being led by Angela McArdle, the chair of the Libertarian Party of LA County.
“We filed this because we believe that vaccine mandates are a gross violation of constitutional rights and of our natural right to bodily autonomy,” McArdle explained.
If she gets the 65,000 signatures, the city council will have the option to adopt a new ordinance that does not require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, venues and salons.
This would also eliminate the vaccination or negative COVID test requirement to enter outdoor events with over 5,000 attendees. McArdle said that for her, this is personal. She has Crohn’s disease and can’t get the vaccine.
“I just want to be able to walk around like a normal, free human being. Sit down at a restaurant, go out to eat. I don’t want to have to jab a stick violently up my nose every time I go into a store in LA,” she explained.
She garnered support at a rally in Whittier hosted by the Whittier Parents for Choice organization, connecting families and community members to resources on how to take action against mandates in their local communities.
“I see all of these things as connected, grassroots movements because we’re all trying to take back our personal freedom,” McArdle said.
Another local, Lauren Foote, said that as a mother, she has no problem with the vaccine mandates for her family.
As a teacher, she finds it nerve-wracking to see so many staff and students out because of COVID.
“I think, in the beginning, a lot of people didn’t want to vaccinate their kids because they thought, ‘Oh, this is a new vaccine, how did they make it in just a year?’ But if you read a lot about it, you know that it was something that had been in the works years prior to us even starting the pandemic,” Foote said.
She doesn’t judge others’ decisions either way, but said she’s disappointed that this has become such a politicized issue.
“Unfortunately, I feel like you know, sometimes parents want to make a statement more than maybe do what’s best for their kids,” she added.
On the other side of the aisle, some parents have taken their kids out of school because of those same mandates. Now, they’re signing up to volunteer for McArdle’s initiative.
“We want as little government interference in your lives as possible,” McArdle said.