Paris and Brussels put bans in place to stop Canadian-inspired copycat trucker convoy in its tracks
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According to the BBC, Paris and Brussels have banned the so-called Freedom Convoy protests planned for Friday, in anticipation of European versions of the blockades which are currently costing Canada billions of dollars every day.
UPDATED FEB 14: According to European media sources, police have during the passed weekend managed to avert large crowds enter major European cities by handing out fines to vehicles trying to join demonstrations.
Despite promises of the easing of pandemic restrictions in most of the Western world, anti Covid mandate demonstrations have been ongoing in Germany since the beginning of January. Germany still maintain a stricter Covid-19 restriction policy than many other European countries do, and have not advised any significant easing of restrictions yet.
As Nato - Russian tension is growing daily and the risk of open conflict in Ukraine is keeping Europe and the rest of the world in fear of a new deadly war, officials in other European cities are now worried about demonstrations spreading to other European countries, inspired by far-right-funded demonstrations in Canada for the last two weeks.
Canada's capital city Ottawa has had their central streets in a complete gridlock since January 29th, when long haul truckers and other protestors opposed to vaccine mandates, initiated an illegal occupation of the central areas of the capital.
This past week, protestors have also blocked border crossings between Canada and the US across the country.
Inspired by the Canadian demonstrations, convoys from towns and cities around France have started making their way to Paris in a copycat effort.
On Monday, online rumours circulated of a major demonstration also in Brussels.
In France, protesters are also opposed to the vaccination pass required to enter restaurants, bars and public spaces - however, the political complexity behind the protests seem less polarised than in Canada, where the protests seem to have come to represent a call for an uprise against the Liberal government in general, rather than just a disagreement about pandemic restrictions.
Convoys have been organising online and appear to come from various political and ideological backgrounds, making it difficult to estimate how many vehicles were planning to arrive in Paris on Friday, or how many might be attempting to enter the European capital of Brussels over the weeked.
One of the largest online groups has more than 350,000 members, and French media report that several convoys already left cities such as Nice, Bayonne and Perpignan at mid week.
Motorways leading into Paris will have extra police patrolling them. Drivers blocking the free flow of traffic could also have their driving licence suspended or penalty points added to their licence.
Officials say the Covid pass restrictions which are behind the anger fuelling the the French protests could be removed in the next two months, or at any rate before France's presidential election in April.
In Brussels, meanwhile, Mayor Philippe Close said that he and Belgian ministers had decided to ban the protest because no application for a demonstration had been filed. He said resources were being deployed to prevent road blockages and that police would turn away and divert any arriving convoy vehicles.
State of Emergency in Canada´s largest province - Court order issued Friday to stop the protests
As CTIF.org reported earlier this week, last weekend the City of Ottawa declared a state of emergency over the protests, which has seen as many as 3000 or more truck tractors daily blocking the streets to protest against pandemic mandates requiring vaccination in order to cross the US-Canada border.
On Friday, the entire Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation in the afternoon, warning demonstrators of the consequences if they don´t abandon the illegal occupation of Ottawa and the blocking of several border crossings.
On Friday, a Canadian court order was issued, ordering protesters to clear vehicles blocking border crossings and the central areas of Ottawa, or severe legal consequences would face demonstrators who continue to defy the court order.
The demonstrations have so far costed Canada more than a billion dollars per day, escalating this week with the border crossings stopping a large percentage of all trade between the US and Canada. Just policing efforts in Ottawa alone, has been estimated to 700 000 Canadian dollars daily, (about €500,000)
PM Justin Trudeau said bringing in the military would be the last possible resort to solve the situation, and something he would "avoid at all cost". He however hinted that the situation is getting so grave that no measures are off the table if border crossings are not cleared by demonstrators in coming days.