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Protesters gather against mask mandate in St. Francois County

"It's an absolute over reach. You can't tell people what to wear, "says Bethany Lane, a mask mandate opponent

FARMINGTON, Mo. — On a Friday night, a long line of protesters gathered outside the St. Francois County Government Center in Farmington.

Moms with their kids, couples, veterans all united to speak out against a new, county-wide mask mandate set to take effect on Monday.

"It's an absolute overreach. You can't tell people what to wear," said  Bethany Lane, a mask mandate opponent.

Lane demonstrated with her 12-year-old son.

"I know what kind of condition my health is in. I know what kind of condition my child's health is in and healthy people don't wear masks," added Lane.

"Is it really about keeping people safe like they say or is it about trying to control the entire population. I don't like it," said Logan Lane.

This week the St. Francois County Health Department passed the mask mandate during an emergency meeting.

Among other things, the current order states face coverings must be worn by anyone over the age of nine including employees and visitors at any business or public space and when anyone other than family members of a household will be within six feet.

However, protesters held many signs along Liberty Street, saying the mandate infringes on their first amendment rights, fuels fear and they won't comply.

'I'm totally okay with the mask. I don't want to be forced to wear a mask," said Amanda Herwig, another opponent.

Across the street, Abigail Calvert was one of three mask-wearing, mandate supporters.

"I think you should start caring about people and you should see how many people are dying," said Abigail Calvert.

Health officials report since March eight people in St. Francois County have died of coronavirus.

The protest lasted for more than an hour. At one point there was a heated argument between the two sides. Police were called, but no one was arrested and overall there weren't any major problems.

Meanwhile, Melissa Workman is collecting signatures to get the mask mandate rescinded.

"I have collected more than four thousand so far. We're gonna fight and even if that doesn't happen, it's not ending here," said Workman.