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Ottawa declares state of emergency over Canadian trucker protests against Covid vaccine mandates

Business Insider US
Truckers lineup their trucks on Metcalfe Street as they honk their horns on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.
  • The "Freedom Convoy" has evolved into an occupation that's lasted 10 days and is still going.
  • Demonstrators are blocking roads in the city center in an attempt to get vaccine mandates lifted.
  • The Ottawa mayor said the protest is "completely out of control." 
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

The mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to the 10-day occupation of the Canadian capital in protest of Covid-19 vaccine mandates for truckers and other restrictions.

"Declaring a state of emergency reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations," Mayor Jim Watson's office said in a statement.

Watson also said during a radio interview on Sunday that "the situation at this point is completely out of control," adding: "They have far more people than we have police officers."

Much of the city center has been shut down by the occupation since thousands of people began arriving last weekend for the protest, which has grown to include different groups demonstrating against a variety of public health measures.

Hundreds of large trucks, vehicles, and tents are blocking city streets, while protesters have used sleds and wagons to carry gas canisters so trucks in the protest zone around Parliament can refuel, CTV News reported.

Trucks parked in downtown Ottawa continue to protest Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions, on February 4, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.

The "Freedom Convoy" initially set out to protest vaccine mandates for truckers who travel over the US-Canada border. Some truckers traveled across the country for a week before arriving in the capital. 

Canada's mandate, imposed on January 15, requires truckers to present proof of vaccination in order to cross the border. Truckers without a vaccine are required to quarantine and take a Covid-19 test when they return from the US. A similar mandate for US truckers was imposed on January 22.

Ottawa Police said in a statement on Sunday that seven people had been arrested and 100 were issued tickets in relation to the ongoing demonstrations. The arrests have been for mischief and property damage to a business. The statement said there were a total of 60 criminal investigations related to the protest.

Police also issued a warning that anyone caught bringing fuel to trucks participating in the demonstration could be arrested and charged.

Convoy organizers have said they will remain until the vaccine mandates are lifted, but the Canadian government shows no signs of relenting.

Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on January 29, 2022.

"We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot ... in the (2021) election and we're simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians," Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on TV Sunday, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was moved from his home as a safety precaution when the protest began last weekend, has been largely quiet on the demonstration. Trudeau has said the protesters represent a "fringe minority."

"Almost 90% of truckers in Canada are already vaccinated, and the best way to continue to prevent supply chain disruptions is to ensure that everyone gets vaccinated," he said at a press conference last week.

Trudeau, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week, has been participating in meetings virtually.

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