/Mask Mandates, Covid-19 Cases and Omicron News: Covid Live Updates – The New York Times

Mask Mandates, Covid-19 Cases and Omicron News: Covid Live Updates – The New York Times

Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

As Canada’s capital remained paralyzed by nearly two weeks of protests against pandemic measures, a new road blockade effectively cut off Canada’s busiest link to the United States, threatening to undermine a significant sector of the country’s economy.

While smaller than the protests that have buffeted Ottawa’s downtown, the new protest targets the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. The bridge is a vital link for the automobile industry, which relies on a constant shuttling of parts and components across the border to keep factories humming in Ontario and the Midwestern United States.

The heavy trucks and private vehicles have blocked traffic destined for Canada. On Tuesday morning the Canada Border Services Agency listed the bridge as “temporarily closed.” But Windsor Police said on Twitter that traffic was again moving to the United States through a secondary entrance to the bridge.

Most of the trucks in the Windsor protest were covered with flags and posters denouncing vaccine mandates and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau himself had his own message for the protesters in the national capital, whom he accused of undermining Canadian democracy: “It has to stop.”

Speaking to the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday night, the prime minister said the protests, which began in opposition to Covid-19 restrictions, were harassing Ottawa residents “in their own neighborhoods.”

They are “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau said on Twitter that hundreds of Royal Canadian Mounted Police had been mobilized to support Ottawa police officers, and promised that the Canadian government and city would employ “whatever resources are needed to get the situation under control.” On Sunday, the authorities in Ottawa had declared a state of emergency.

In Ottawa on Tuesday morning, several hundred trucks continued to paralyze the city center but the nonstop honking of previous days appeared to have subsided. Reports on local radio in Ottawa said residents had a good night’s sleep for the first time in over a week. But many businesses have been shuttered during the protests, losing tens of millions of dollars.

The demonstrations in Ottawa started in January as a loosely organized convoy of truck drivers and protesters rumbled across the country en route to the capital to oppose the mandatory vaccination of truckers crossing the U.S.-Canadian border. It soon attracted the support of other Canadians exhausted by nearly two years of pandemic restrictions.

The Ottawa protests have also become a rallying cry for powerful far-right and anti-vaccine groups around the world.

Photos of the Canadian truckers appeared on anti-vaccine groups on Facebook and other social networks about two weeks ago. Since then, prominent far-right figures in numerous countries, including the United States, Australia and Germany, have praised the protests, spreading the images and arguments even more widely. Some, including in the United States, want to replicate the protests.

Donors have contributed millions of dollars meant for the Canadian protesters in online campaigns.

Now, the protests are threatening the supply chain of an industry with deep links between Canada and the United States.

Flavio Volpe, the president of the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, a Canadian trade group, said that about $300 million dollars in goods cross the bridge daily with about $100 million of that related to the auto industry. Most assembly plants, he said, have enough parts for only one day’s production, raising the possibility of layoffs if there is a prolonged border disruption.

“The idea that a group is hiding under the profession of trucking, though unsupported by trucking associations, to disrupt this is brain-dead,” he said. “They’re showing Canadians that they don’t actually care what’s on the shelves or that they don’t care if they can go to work.”

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, denounced the bridge blockade on Tuesday, noting that it is used by many health care workers.

Officials in Detroit are redirecting traffic bound for Canada to a border crossing about two hours away in Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario. Another Canadian protest convoy closed a highway leading to that bridge on Sunday and slowed border traffic.

A blockade of the border between the Western province of Alberta and Montana that started on Jan. 29 continues to slow and sometimes close the border in the town of Coutts.

In Ottawa, the protesters remain defiant. Some were clearly on the fringe, wearing Nazi symbols and desecrating public monuments. But some say they had never attended a protest before. And many described themselves as ordinary Canadians driven to take to the streets by desperation.

“They keep doing the same thing, and it’s not working,” said Nicole Vandelaar, a 31-year-old hairdresser, who was at the protest in Ottawa. “They have to do something else. No more lockdowns. Let us live our lives.”

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