As copycat demonstrations spread to Australia, New Zealand, and France as the highly contagious Omicron variety begins to lessen in certain locations, several pandemic-weary Western countries will shortly mark two years of restrictions.
Ford and Toyota have paused production as anti-coronavirus mandate demonstrators block US-Canada border crossings, causing economic damage and warnings from Washington and Ottawa.
Since late January, horn-blaring protesters have caused gridlock in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, and trucks have shut down inbound Canada traffic at the Ambassador Bridge, a supply line for Detroit’s automakers and agricultural exports.
The interruption near Detroit, the historic hub of the US automotive industry, has now impacted a number of car manufacturers, but other factors such as harsh weather and a scarcity of semi-conductor chips have also played a role.
Toyota, the largest automaker in the United States, said it does not anticipate to produce vehicles at its Ontario plants for the remainder of the week, while production at a Ford engine facility has been halted, and Stellantis, a Chrysler subsidiary, has also been interrupted.
Since late Tuesday, another border crossing in Alberta province has been closed in both directions.
Road transport accounts for more than two-thirds of the $C650 billion ($715 billion) in products exchanged annually between Canada and the United States.
Starting with a “Freedom Convoy” occupying downtown Ottawa to protest the US government’s vaccination-or-quarantine rule for cross-border trucks, protesters have also voiced concerns about a carbon tax and other laws.