Key US-Canada border crossing reopens after Covid protests
WINDSOR – A major US-Canada border crossing reopened late Sunday almost a week after it was forced shut by truck driver-led protests against coronavirus restrictions, prompting police to quell the demonstration with a series of arrests.
The blockading of the Ambassador Bridge, which handles an estimated 25 percent of trade between the two countries, had disrupted business in the world’s largest economy and forced automakers in the United States and Canada to halt or scale back production. The demonstrations, which have also paralyzed the Canadian capital Ottawa, have sparked similar movements in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. Some US truckers are considering a protest for March. “The Ambassador Bridge is now fully open, once again allowing the free flow of commerce between the Canadian and US economies,” the Detroit International Bridge Company said in a statement.
In a tweet, Canadian Border Services confirmed the reopening but said “non-essential travel is not advised.”
Police had begun clearing the bridge to the US city of Detroit on Saturday, successfully removing trucks from one major intersection. But some demonstrators remained, extending the protracted standoff and preventing traffic from flowing.By Sunday, police said between 25 and 30 protesters had been arrested.
“There will be zero tolerance for illegal activity,” police in Windsor, Ontario, tweeted.
The truckers have found support among conservatives and vaccine mandate opponents across the globe, even as Covid-19 measures are being rolled back in many places.
In Paris on Saturday, police fired tear gas and issued hundreds of fines in an effort to break up convoys coming from across France.
The Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria have also seen copycat movements, and Belgian authorities said Monday they had intercepted 30 vehicles as police scrambled to stop a convoy of trucks.
Demonstrators were seeking to head north to the seat of the European Union in defiance of a Belgian ban.
Brussels mayor Philippe Close told local RTBF radio that a total of 400-500 cars and vans had been spotted en route for the Belgian capital.
“About 30 have been blocked and the others have vanished,” Close said.