Trucks lined up next to the Parliament building during the 4th Day of Trucker's protest against the mandatory vaccine policy imposed on the Canadian truckers returning from USA to avoid a two week quarantine at Parliament Hill in Ottawa-Canada (Photo by Arindam Shivaani/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Loud trucker protest disrupts Ottawa
03:03 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Tensions stemming from protests spearheaded by Canadian truck drivers over the country’s Covid-19 mandates have been simmering in recent weeks, so much so that traffic at key US transit points has ground to a stop and a judge has temporarily banned demonstrators in the nation’s capital from using horns.

For nearly two weeks, Canadian truckers have been protesting a new rule that requires them to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or face a two-week quarantine in their homes after they return across the US-Canadian border. Others have joined to rally against mask mandates, lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings and other Covid-19 preventative efforts in the country.

Demonstrations have popped up across Canada, including at the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit and is the busiest international crossing in North America. Idling trucks and vehicles impeded access to the bridge for a third day Wednesday, snarling traffic on both sides of the border.

“When the border crossing of this magnitude – almost a third of all traffic between our two countries crosses here – and when it closes down, it has an immediate and material impact on the economies of our both nations,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday night.

Some protesters have been loud – so annoyingly loud that a lawsuit is demanding an end to the deafening honking unleashed by the truckers in downtown Ottawa, Canada’s capital, where residents have endured the near-constant noise in their homes.

Zexi Li, who lives within five blocks of protests at Parliament Hill, sued to demand an end to the beeping. Sound levels from the air and train horns are “dangerous and cause permanent damage to the human ear” and cause “significant mental distress, suffering and torment,” the lawsuit filed by the 21-year-old says.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean on Monday issued a 10-day injunction that prevents demonstrating truckers on downtown Ottawa streets from using air or train horns. A hearing is set for next Wednesday.

Mayor Jim Watson described the constant honking of large trucks as “tantamount to psychological warfare” and wrote in letters to federal and provincial officials earlier this week that, “People are living in fear and are terrified.”

As of Wednesday morning, Canadian-bound traffic at the Ambassador Bridge was still shut down, Michigan officials tweeted. US-bound traffic was flowing for both commercial and passenger traffic, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

Access to the bridge from the Canadian side could be tricky, however. Owing in part to protests on that side, traffic was heavy and some roads were blocked. One access route in particular was still open, Windsor police Constable Talya Natyshak said.

About 100 protesters were in the area of the bridge in Windsor as of 9 a.m. ET Wednesday, Natyshak said.

Canadian-bound and US-bound lanes were open to passenger and some commercial traffic at an alternative, the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, which has height restrictions, according to Canadian and US border websites.

Another alternative, the Blue Water Bridge connecting Port Huron and Sarnia about a 60-mile drive northeast of Detroit, was open to traffic from both sides. While little wait was reported for US-bound traffic and Canada-bound passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles headed to Canada were enduring delays of more than four hours Wednesday morning, according to Canada’s website for wait times.

The truckers’ vaccine rule that kicked off the protests remains. But some of the Covid-19 related restrictions that moved others to join truckers in their protests have started to go away.

Provincial public health officials across Canada, who are largely responsible for imposing and lifting most health restrictions, have lifted some measures in recent weeks.

As the most recent surge of Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant subsided, nearly all provinces have seen a decrease in new hospital admissions – though ICU occupancy remains stubbornly high.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Theresa Tam, has said in recent days that it is prudent for provinces to react and adapt health restrictions based on local circumstances.