The People’s Convoy

Members of The People’s Convoy stayed overnight in Linda before setting off on Monday morning for Sacramento. Several vehicles associated with the protest movement remained parked near the old Peach Tree Mall in Linda as the convoy made its way to Sacramento.

A group referred to as the “People’s Convoy” arrived in Sacramento on Monday morning, circling downtown streets and blaring horns in trucks and other vehicles. 

It’s the first of an apparent three-day stint of events planned at California’s state Capitol in protest of coronavirus restrictions. The first event, with a permit granted to the “Unified Americans Convoy of California” from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday on the north side of the Capitol, was permitted for 200 attendees, California Highway Patrol permit records showed.

The second permit, given to “The Peoples Convoy California” for a demonstration on the west side of the Capitol, was scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. for 300 attendees. 

Videos on social media and livestreams from attendees, though, showed that members of the convoy had spilled over from the north side and began to crash an unrelated, permitted event scheduled for the west side at 11 a.m. The event by the Prosecutors Alliance of California intended to give resources to crime survivors, according to its permit.

Chants of “U.S.A.” drowned out a small group of prosecutors and victims speaking on the west steps of the Capitol. Monday’s first convoy event was described in its permit application as a “rally to protest multiple Covid-19 mandates and many bills that are coming across the Assembly and Senate floors.” The second is listed as a “peaceful protest against state of emergency and bills.” 

The Unified Americans Convoy has two more permitted events this week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Wednesday. Both are also listed as rallies protesting COVID-19 mandates. Today’s rally is permitted for 400 participants and Wednesday’s for 200, CHP permit records showed.

After Wednesday, no other convoy protests have had permits granted for the rest of April at the Capitol, according to the CHP’s permitted events calendar. Trucks and other vehicles drove loops around the Capitol grounds downtown on Monday morning, blasting their horns, starting at around 9:30 a.m. 

The vehicles arriving at the Capitol appeared to be associated with a trucker convoy that departed from Southern California in early March and drove cross-country to the Washington area. 

Trucks, RVs and other vehicles disrupted Beltway traffic for a few weeks, in a protest modeled after a weekslong “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa, which rallied against COVID-19 restrictions in Canada. The U.S. convoy left D.C. late last month, after causing considerably less disruption than the Canadian convoy. Co-organizer Mike Landis at the end of March asked a crowd gathered at Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland to join him in heading back to California, the Washington Post reported.

 

Relatively few COVID orders remaining

Many of California’s virus-related health orders from earlier in the pandemic have been lifted in recent weeks. A temporary mask mandate reinstated in mid-December, due to the highly contagious omicron variant, ended in mid-February for the fully vaccinated and was lifted March 1 for those who are unvaccinated. 

A statewide mask order for K-12 students, teachers and staff ended March 12. Last week, the California Department of Public Health announced the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for K-12 students would not kick in until at least summer 2023, as the state awaits full approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the health office had previously anticipated that approval would arrive in time to begin the mandate this summer.

The state on April 1 also dropped requirements for businesses and venues to verify proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for attendance at large indoor events. A state of emergency issued by Newsom in March 2020 remains in place, though Newsom in February announced he was rescinding a large number of his COVID-related executive actions. Some of those ended immediately, some ended March 31 and others are set to expire June 30. 

Republican leaders in California have called for the Legislature to terminate Newsom’s emergency declaration, arguing it gives him too much power. Health workers in both the public and private sectors are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted under a California health order. California state workers who are not health employees must either be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to regular testing for the virus. 

Democrats in late March postponed a bill that would have required all employees — public, private and contractors — to provide proof of vaccination, citing opposition from public safety unions.

Masks are still required under state health guidelines in several places considered high risk for virus transmission, including health care settings, nursing homes and other congregate settings, prisons, and homeless shelters. 

A federal order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeping masks mandatory on public transit had been set to end Monday, but was extended through May 3. Then on Monday morning, a federal judge in Florida voided the mandate, ruling it exceeded the CDC’s authority.

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