Protests over Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates have forced the Ambassador Bridge, one of the busiest crossings between Canada and the United States, to be shut down.
The Canada Border Services Agency listed the span, which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, as “temporarily closed” as of Feb. 9.
Windsor Police said on Feb. 8 that it increased its presence along Huron Church Road, approaching the bridge, as the protests have “interrupted normal vehicle traffic flow, but we have been able to continue a limited amount of access to the Ambassador Bridge.”
“Officers are on scene addressing traffic points, public safety, and enforcement,” police said. “Commercial vehicles are being redirected to the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia. The Detroit–Windsor Tunnel remains open to non-commercial vehicles. Please avoid the area, use alternative routes and monitor our social media for updates.”
In a later update, Windsor Police said that the bridge had reopened to U.S.-bound traffic and could be accessed from the Wyandotte Street west entrance.
Ontario Provincial Police in Essex County advised motorists heading to the Ambassador Bridge to plan an alternate route to the border via highway 402 due to “ongoing demonstration activity in the Windsor area.”
The Michigan Department of Transportation said the Ambassador Bridge remained closed on the U.S. side. The department said people traveling to Canada should do so via the Port Huron crossing, which connects that U.S. city with Sarnia, Ontario.
Canadian police also warned of another border crossing closure on Feb. 8, this time at Coutts, Alberta, where north and southbound lanes were shut down due to protests.
The protests began as a demonstration by truckers in response to a federal vaccine mandate for truck drivers that went into effect on Jan. 15, despite opposition from members of the trucking industry.
Under the mandate, Canadian drivers returning to Canada must be vaccinated in order to avoid entering quarantine. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced similar requirements starting Jan. 22 for non-U.S. nationals crossing into the United States who aren’t vaccinated, including non-U.S. truck drivers.
However, the protest, called the “Freedom Convoy,” has since gained traction and evolved into a larger movement that has been joined by people from across Canada who oppose various COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
Protest organizers say their demonstration is peaceful.
However, Ottawa Police said over the weekend that they had made multiple arrests in relation to the demonstrations and had begun seizing fuel while cautioning that anyone found bringing fuel to the demonstration trucks in the “red zone” risked being arrested.
“There are over 60 criminal investigations so far related to the demonstration. They are primarily for mischief, thefts, hate crimes, and property damage,” officials said.
Windsor Police on Feb. 8 said it has maintained communications with main organizers but cautioned that demonstrators “found committing crimes and acts of violence will be investigated and charges will be laid.”
“This includes enforcement of traffic-related offenses and investigating any criminal acts,” police said.
Organizers of the Freedom Convoy 2022 say the COVID-19 mandates are “destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries, and livelihoods.”
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he won’t meet with the protesters.