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May 22, 2022
‘Freedom Convoy’ Covid Protests Force Car Factory Shutdowns And Spread Around The World
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‘Freedom Convoy’ Covid Protests Force Car Factory Shutdowns And Spread Around The World

Topline
Some of the world’s biggest carmakers have been forced to close factories as anti-pandemic restriction protests continue to snarl supply chains and block the busiest route linking Canada to the U.S. , with officials in the U.S. and around the world warning of more disruption to come as the protests spread. 

Protestors against Covid-19 vaccine mandates block the roadway at the Ambassador Bridge border … [+] crossing in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 9, 2022. – The protestors, who are in support of the Truckers Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, have blocked traffic in the Canada bound lanes of the bridge since Monday evening. Approximately $323 million worth of goods cross the Windsor-Detroit border each day at the Ambassador Bridge, making it North Americas busiest international border crossing. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

A spokesperson for Toyota, the world’s biggest car manufacturer, Wednesday night said the company will not be able to manufacture anything at three Canadian factories this week due to a shortage of parts, which have been held up by disruption at the border.

Ford also said it had to close a plant and run another one at reduced capacity because of the disruption, with Chrysler-owner Stellantis also shortening shifts at its factory.

The “Freedom Convoy,” which started around two-weeks ago protesting Canada’s Covid-19 restrictions, has inspired similar rallies around the world, with New Zealand police arresting more than 50 people protesting the country’s vaccine mandates and movement restrictions on Thursday.

A convoy of trucks, cars and motorcycles left southern France on Wednesday and headed to Paris to oppose the country’s vaccine pass program, with some holding Canadian flags to acknowledge the original convoy.

Belgian police are reportedly preparing for a convoy of protesters to hit Brussels, the home of many international and European Union institutions, as soon as Monday, Politico reported, with violence considered a distinct possibility given previous protests.    

What To Watch For
Other protests. Officials have warned a “Freedom Convoy” protest could make its way across the U.S., according to a Department of Homeland Security bulletin obtained by NBC News. The bulletin said the convoy could cause chaos on transportation routes to other cities and speculated Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles—which is hosting the Super Bowl this weekend— as possible destinations.

What We Don’t Know
The scale of the protests. The French movement has dozens of vehicles driving to Paris but a much larger online following. According to the New York Times, the group has attracted more than 300,000 Facebook followers in a few days and its Telegram group, which reportedly posts detailed maps for drivers and meeting points along the way, has 25,000 members. The protesters are expected to reach Paris on Friday and there are calls for the group to continue on to Brussels, where most European Union institutions are headquartered. 

Further Reading
European ‘freedom convoy’ eyes major Valentine’s Day protest in Brussels against COVID-19 measures (Politico)

Anti-Vaccine Mandate Protesters Block Vital U.S.-Canada Border Crossing For Second Straight Day (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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