A rally to protest COVID mask mandates and lockdowns takes place on Saturday, in support of a World Wide Rally for Freedom, which sprang out of protests against pandemic restrictions in Germany. Santa Barbara’s version supports freedom, democracy, and human rights, according to one of the organizers, Justin Shores.
Shores, who ran for Goleta City Council in 2020, asserts that government lockdowns and mask mandates are excessive measures imposed without “proper scientific study.” “What it did accomplish was the killing of many businesses and massive psychological damage to kids,” he said. “The choice should be left with the citizens on whether or not they want to go out in public, on whether or not they want to wear a mask, and whether or not they want to distance themselves from others after being well informed on the matter.” The discomfort of wearing masks was compounded by concerns they carried bacteria or mold, and reduced oxygen levels, Shores explained.
The CDC’s latest guidelines on wearing masks — that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing them in many outdoor and indoor situations — doesn’t address Shores’s concerns. Many people have strongly held doubts about COVID vaccines and have avoided them. As Shores sees it, “If you believe the vaccine protects you, then you have no reason to worry about being around anyone, vaxed or unvaxed. If it doesn’t protect you, then why are you taking it?”
The potential for “vaccine passports” also alarmed Shores. It would create a two-class society, he said, and coerce people into getting a vaccine they didn’t want. He pointed to Orange County, which has considered a vaccine “passport” but backed down amid a large public outcry.
For Santa Barbara County Public Health officials, multiple studies verified that mask-wearing reduced new infections, and that hospital workers and even adults with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) had reported no oxygen or carbon dioxide level changes when wearing masks, even during physical activity.
No word on vaccine passports has passed any Santa Barbara official’s lips. But County Supervisor Gregg Hart, a strong supporter of Public Health’s COVID efforts, said stay-at-home orders “saved lives and prevented our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.”
Shores said several people from the Santa Barbara medical community would speak at the rally, which takes place at noon at Stearns Wharf, and he expected several hundred people might attend.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.