A Warrnambool business owner says she will permanently close her cafe this week because she is "frightened" of the Victorian Government's proposed pandemic laws that are set to be voted through parliament.
Rebekah Mahmoud is one of a number of Warrnambool protesters who have been camped out on the steps of parliament this week and plans to stay there until the legislation is passed.
The Brightbird Espresso cafe in Liebig Street last month closed its doors for the "foreseeable future" when the new government rules came into effect which forced them to turn away customers based on their vaccination status.
Now Ms Mahmoud, who operates the shop with her brother, says they will close for good because of the new legislation that they say has left them with a "sense of despair" and "feeling frightened".
"We don't want to operate under rules that are going to discriminate. We just won't," she said.
Ms Mahmoud said she travelled to Melbourne on Saturday to attend the mass protest which filled the streets around parliament house, and then returned on Monday night.
"We slept on the steps on Monday night and last night the boys slept on the steps as well. I was there until about 2am," she said.
Ms Mahmoud said she was there when someone drove up to the protest with the gallows on the back of a trailer on Monday night.
But she said most people at the ongoing protest wanted it to be peaceful, and said she did not want to be associated with the ugly scenes.
"People have been there nearly three or four days straight. There are very tired people, there's very angry people. Everyone's got emotions running high," she said.
"There's a lot of people who have lost their jobs and were hoping that things might change, and that's obviously not looking like it."
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Ms Mahmoud said police had moved the protesters off the steps of Parliament on Wednesday but they intended to stay at the parliament protest until the bill was voted through in the hope that it might be voted down.
"I just feel sad that we've come to this point," she said.
"Once we have this semi-permanent segregation or discrimination, whatever the word is that you want to use, the division between families and people is just going to be horrific.
"Are we never going to be intelligent enough to stop things before they get to a point where we say 'that went too far'.
"It's just a very weird feeling."
Ms Mahmoud said her main concern was the pandemic legislation but she was also concerned about people having the right to choose when it came to vaccination.
"The pandemic bill is a tool that, regardless of whether this was about vaccination or not, it is a dangerous piece of legislation that no government should have," she said.
"Even if the Andrews government doesn't do anything irresponsible with it, that tool is there in the future."
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