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Anti-mask protest held at Iowa Capitol during first legislative session

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- During the opening day of the 2021 Iowa legislative session, lawmakers were met by hundreds of protesters calling for the state to ease its mask requirements.

They chanted "Freedom" and many held signs that said "Coercion is not consent" and "Mandates belong in socialist countries."

Under the current Public Health Disaster proclamation, face masks are required when people are in an indoor public space, and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer.

The proclamation says these same rules apply for any facility under the control of the Executive branch, but are exempt from any space under the control of the Legislative or Judicial Branches, meaning there are no mask requirements at the Capitol.

Republicans, who hold the majority in both the House and the Senate, chose not to mandate masks or require that members disclose if they have been infected by the virus.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver says having to shut down the Capitol for a COVID-19 outbreak could jeopardize the work lawmakers need to do.

KWWL will have a full report on today's session at 5 & 6.

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