Businesses in Busselton’s popular Fig Tree Lane are being forced to reduce hours and take stress leave as anti-vaxxers continue their harassment over WA’s mask and vaccine mandates. Cafes, bookshops and jewellers in the well-known South West laneway have said they’re unable to escape the harassment as the groups target businesses online and in person. Since the WA Government enacted WA’s Emergency Management Act mandating COVID regulations such as vaccines and mask wearing, anti-vaccination groups have become vocal, protesting across the state against the law. Some groups have gone as far as targeting individuals and businesses for complying with and enforcing the mandates. In the South West, COVID deniers have targeted their anger at businesses displaying posters asking customers to wear masks — using social media to stalk businesses and employees, posting false negative reviews, attending in person to present legal documents and verbally harass workers. Busselton senior sergeant James Bradley confirmed Busselton police had responded to numerous reports of businesses fearing for their safety and were investigating the matter. “We’re aware businesses have been targeted by anti-vax people and we take these reports very seriously,” he said. “I encourage people if they are concerned for their safety because of the behaviour of customers to call police immediately. “The law requires people to wear masks inside buildings and in some instances show proof-of-vaccination, if people refuse to comply and begin acting in a disorderly manner that is a criminal offence in itself.” It’s understood the behaviour has reached a point where business owners in Fig Tree Lane have feared for their safety and the safety of their employees. One woman, who asked not to be named, said she was told her “weak” family members deserved to die when she expressed caution about the COVID-19 virus by abiding by WA Government mandates. She told The Times, the same person who had repeatedly targeted the store she worked in had taken to stalking her on social media. Barefoot Books owner Jasmine Geddes said since she placed a sign at the door reminding customers to wear masks she had been frequently targeted by sovereign citizens in particular. “They call themselves pro-choice and anti-mandate, but they’re really pro-their own agenda, I’m not stopping anyone’s rights or challenging them, I’m simply following the law,” she said. “It’s got so bad we are having to change and reduce hours to protect our staff, especially juniors who I am unwilling to have alone in the shop and potentially be faced like that unsupported. “It’s been a massive decline in sales because of the reduced hours and people walking by fear being caught in the verbal abuse. “If there is an argument against the vaccine we will never hear it because there’s now no room for rational discussion, it’s you’re not part of the anti-vax movement so you get shouted down.” Between the harassment and stocking issues from WA’s previous hard border, Ms Geddes said she and other business owners could face closure if the conversation remains hostile. “Mentally we’re all exhausted anyway, this doesn’t help,” she added. Elysium Jeweller owner Clayton Gordon said while people stayed clear of his shop, he had witnessed his fellow businesses harassed on multiple occasions and felt the need to step in and has himself called police. “It’s just ridiculous, no one is impeding anyone’s rights, we’re just trying to run our businesses,” he said. It’s understood at least four business owners in the Busselton area have had to take stress leave due to the harassment from mandate opposers.