DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of unmasked protesters gathered inside the Iowa State Capitol to greet lawmakers on the first day of the 2021 legislative session Monday, unhappy with certain regulations put into effect by Gov. Kim Reynolds during the coronavirus pandemic.
They carried signs with messages like "Mask Mandates Violate Bodily Autonomy" and "We Refuse To Be An Experiment."
The rally was organized by the group Informed Choice Iowa, which has publicly questioned the effectiveness and rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Group protesting mask mandates, other restrictions gathers at statehouse
Some Democratic lawmakers took to Twitter to condemn the demonstration.
Days before the session, Republican leadership in charge of setting safety protocols released a list of guidelines for lawmakers, their staff and the public to follow during the session.
Masks are not mandatory, though they will be given out to anyone who wants one. Neither lawmakers nor their staff has to report a positive coronavirus case nor a close contact.
Republican leaders said they consulted with the latest CDC guidelines and the Iowa Department of Public of Health in creating the guidelines for the 2021 session.
In a statement regarding the rally, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health said, "It is critical that Iowans follow public health guidelines and the governor's proclamation."
As of 10 a.m. Monday, more than 296,000 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 4,100 have died.
The same group protesting at the Capitol on Monday held a conference in Des Moines in the fall of 2020 where few practiced social distancing or wore a mask.
Local 5 has reached out to the governor's office for comment regarding this story.