Canadian police made arrests and cleared protesters and vehicles that had blocked a vital trade route on the border with the US for six days, before it was announced the bridge will reopen to traffic later on Sunday.
The “Freedom Convoy” protests, originally started in Canada’s capital Ottawa by truckers opposed to a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers.
However, it turned into a rallying point against broader COVID rules, carbon tax and other issues, with people joining in cars, pick-up trucks and farm vehicles.
The officers moved in on Sunday following a tense standoff between Canadian police and demonstrators since Friday, when a court order and threats of arrest failed to end the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario.
Windsor Police said in a Twitter post: “Enforcement actions continue at the demonstration area with arrests being made. Vehicles being towed. Please continue avoiding the area.”
Protests also erupted across several cities in Canada yesterday, with about 4,000 people in downtown Ottawa.
Toronto was hit with about 1,000 demonstrators, although the police had shut key access roads to the central business district in the region.
Early on Saturday, police moved protesters back from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, but more people got into the area in the afternoon and the operation appeared to have stopped.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told CBC News: “I am very hopeful still that police can… try and get to these folks in a reasonable way and have them understand that it’s time to move on.
“We can no longer afford as a country to keep it closed.”
The bridge carries about $360 million a day in two-way cargoes, which is 25% of the value of all US-Canada goods trade.
US President Joe Biden said he asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use federal powers to end the blockade.
The White House said in a statement: “The President expressed his concern that US companies and workers are experiencing serious effects, including slowdowns in production, shortened work hours, and plant closures.”
Mr Trudeau told Mr Biden he would take “quick action in enforcing the law,” the White House added.