A major border crossing between the United States and Canada has reopened after truck drivers’ protests against the COVID-19 virus

A major border crossing between the United States and Canada has reopened after truck drivers' protests against the COVID-19 virus

A demonstrator holds the Canadian flag as anti-vaccination protesters gather on Interstate 15 near Pacific Highway at the US-Canada border in Surrey, British Columbia, on February 12, 2022.

The blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, which handles an estimated 25 percent of trade between the two countries, has disrupted trade in the world’s largest economy and forced automakers in both the United States and Canada to shut down or scale back production.

The demonstrations, which paralyzed the Canadian capital Ottawa, sparked similar movements in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. Some American truck drivers are considering a protest in March.

“The Ambassador Bridge is now fully open, once again enabling free trade between the Canadian and US economies,” Detroit International Bridge Company said in a statement.

In a tweet, Canada Border Services confirmed the reopening but said “non-essential travel is not recommended.”

Police began evacuating the bridge into the US city of Detroit on Saturday and were able to clear trucks from a major intersection. But some protesters continued to prolong the protracted standoff and block the flow of traffic.

On Sunday, police said between 25 and 30 protesters had been arrested.

“There will be zero tolerance for illegal activities,” police in Windsor, Ontario, wrote on Twitter.

Washington has warned of “serious consequences” for the US economy, and put pressure on the Canadian government and demanded last week that “federal authorities” be used to end the blockade.

When police acquitted the protest this weekend, US officials hailed the “decisive” measure.

Liz Sherwood Randall, the White House’s national security adviser, spoke before work resumed on the bridge.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted “this conflict must end” but has been criticized for not acting decisively.

4000 protesters

Truck drivers had originally gathered in the capital to lobby for their demands to end the vaccination requirement for drivers crossing international borders.

But the move spread, with protesters eventually calling for an end to all vaccine mandates, whether imposed by the federal government or regional governments.

Ottawa was the epicenter of the protests. On Saturday, police said about 4,000 protesters were still occupying the downtown area during the movement’s third weekend.

The atmosphere among the protesters was mostly festive, with music, dancing and the sound of continuous horns – but the noise, obstruction and sometimes rude and aggressive behavior of the protesters damaged business in the area and angered many local residents.

In response, Ontario authorities declared a state of emergency, while the provincial High Court ordered truck drivers to end their blockade.

But the truck drivers’ message resonated more than officials expected.

An opinion poll showed that about a third of Canadians support the protest movement.

Tradition protests

Truck drivers have also found support from governors and opponents of a vaccine mandate around the world, even as Covid-19 measures are eased in many places.

In Paris, police fired tear gas on Saturday and imposed hundreds of fines in an attempt to break up convoys from across France.

Vehicles in the Netherlands brought to a standstill in the center of The Hague in another Canadian-style protest.

Swiss media reported that hundreds of protesters in Switzerland marched in Zurich to protest the restrictions imposed on the virus, while several thousand others gathered against them.

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An estimated 10,000 Australian protesters marched across the capital Canberra to denounce vaccination mandates, while anti-compulsory activists have erected near Parliament for several days in New Zealand.

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