Truckers force Ambassador Bridge shutdown over vaccine protest

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Truckers force Ambassador Bridge shutdown over vaccine protest

Truck drivers in Canada fed up with coronavirus regulations blocked access to the busiest bridge into the US, shutting it down for nearly a day, police said.

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” that started as a movement in Ottawa and other major Canadian cities against vaccine requirements for cross-border truckers continued Monday at the Ambassador Bridge, causing long backups along the Detroit River in Detroit.

The bridge to Canada from the Michigan city shut down by late Monday, the Michigan Department of Transportation tweeted. The span into Canada remained closed early Tuesday, officials said.

The bridge — which links Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit — was reopened for US-bound traffic early Tuesday, Windsor police tweeted. It had been “temporarily interrupted” Monday afternoon as officers tried to restore the “orderly flow of traffic” along the span.

The traffic-blocking convoy along the international span is the first sign that ongoing demonstrations against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other protocols in Canada may affect the US, the Detroit News reported.

Trucker protest.
The “Freedom Convoy” started as a movement in Canada against vaccine requirements for cross-border truckers.
Andre Pichette/EPA

Backups along the busiest border crossing in North America could further impact supply chain woes and staffing shortages at Michigan businesses that rely on goods being shipped and received on time, experts told the newspaper.

“Any delay or disruption in the supply chain creates problems, not just for agriculture but the state economy,” said Chuck Lippstreu, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

Ottawa’s mayor declared a state of emergency Monday to handle the truckers who shut down the capital city for more than a week while demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately end Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Truckers block the highway.
Protesting truckers blocked access to Ambassador Bridge, shutting it down for nearly a day.
Macomb County Scanner/Handout via REUTERS
People carry fuel cans after police said they will be targeting the truckers' fuel supply as they protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario on February 7, 2022.
People carry fuel cans after police said they will be targeting the truckers’ fuel supply as they protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 7, 2022.
REUTERS

“Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives,” Trudeau said late Monday during an emergency Parliament debate as protests raged outside. “It has to stop.”

Trudeau said the restrictions won’t go on forever as he noted that Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates worldwide.

“Canadians trust science,” he said. “A few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are.”

Aerial drone view of the Ambassador Bridge.
Ambassador Bridge links Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Protesters and supporters play street hockey as protest against vaccine mandates implemented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued, on February 7, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.
Protesters and supporters play street hockey as protests against vaccine mandates implemented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued, on February 7, 2022, in Ottawa, Canada.
AFP via Getty Images

The demonstrations across Canada began on Jan. 29 and some protesters are vowing not to leave until certain COVID-19 measures are rescinded, CNN reported.

In Ottawa alone, more than 60 criminal probes connected to the convoy are underway, including allegations of hate crimes, rock-throwing and widespread property damage. At least 450 citations were issued over the weekend, according to CNN.

“We have been 100% full-out on this for the last 10 days straight, and we will not rest until it’s done, but we need more help,” Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said Monday, adding that many in the city had hit their breaking points.

“This is crushing for those residents and their businesses,” Sloly said. “It has to stop, and we are doing everything we can possibly do to stop it.”

Nearly 90% of Canada’s truckers are fully vaccinated, CNN reported, citing figures provided by the government. That’s compared to just over 80% of all Canadians.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, more than 100 truckers rallied across the state on Sunday in support of their Canadian counterparts, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“A few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said about the protesting truckers.
Blair Gable/REUTERS
Trucker protest.
Demonstrations across Canada began on Jan. 29 and some protesters are vowing not to leave until certain COVID-19 measures are rescinded.
Andre Pichette/EPA

Truck drivers and other essential service providers have been allowed to enter Canada only if they’re fully vaccinated since Jan. 15, while the US started mandating non-resident travelers be vaccinated by Jan. 22, according to the newspaper.

“We have to have the shot stamps on our medical cards in order to go out of state, and we don’t want them,” trucker Jeremy Speldrich told the Anchorage Daily News. “Mandates should be our choice, whether you want the shots or not.”

With Post wires

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