Canadian police on Saturday moved in to clear protesters from a key bridge to the United States that is critical to the economies of both countries. The Ambassador Bridge is normally the busiest land border crossing in North America but as of Saturday afternoon it had been paralyzed for five straight days as protesters opposing pandemic restrictions had blocked traffic. As soon as police started moving in on Saturday morning, many of the demonstrators drove away. By late morning, all the vehicles appeared to have been cleared out of the road leading to the bridge but dozens of protesters who were on foot appeared reluctant to leave. And new protesters seemed to join them later in the day, leading to a tense standoff with law enforcement.
Police moved in a day after a judge issued an injunction allowing police to start clearing the bridge and end the blockade. Demonstrators had until 7 p.m. Friday to leave and the number of demonstrators started decreasing at night as authorities warned that vehicles could be seized. Some demonstrators were happy to pack up, saying their goal of calling attention to their demands had been met. Others, however, were more defiant and vowed to stay put even as authorities warned of fines of 100,000 Canadian dollars and up to one year in prison for anyone illegally blocking roads or bridges.
The demonstrations started last month, first with truckers who wanted to protest against rules forcing Canadian truckers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to cross the border into the United States. That protest has since grown and expanded into a general demonstration against COVID-19 measures, including mask mandates. Despite the attention that the protests have garnered around the world, Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world with 81 percent of its population fully vaccinated while 44 percent have received a booster shot.