Detroit Bridge Closed for First Time in Decades Over Canada COVID Protest

The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit was closed for the first time in decades after Canadian protesters blocked access to one of the busiest international bridge crossings in North America.

The bridge from Detroit, Michigan, to Canada was closed on Monday evening amid continuing protests over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The Michigan Department of Transportation advised motorists to use tunnels as alternate routes, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The so-called Freedom Convoy was started by truckers upset over Canada's new COVID-19 mandate requiring drivers entering the country to be fully vaccinated or potentially face testing and quarantine. Others have since joined the movement fighting against mask mandates, lockdown and other COVID-19 restrictions, CNN reported.

The Canadian protests have migrated to the U.S., blocking the Ambassador Bridge in Michigan and entry points in Montana. The bridge closure has increased traffic time and spilled onto Interstate 75 in Detroit. Truck divers needing to cross the border were redirected to the Port Huron Blue Water Bridge, WJBK-TV reported.

The Ambassador Bridge is used by nearly 40,000 commuters, tourists and truck drivers carrying $323 million worth of goods between the U.S. and Canada every day, according to the website for the bridge. It's unclear how the shutdown will affect the supply chain or how long the closure will last.

Gregg Ward, president of Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry, told the Detroit Free Press that the last time the bridge was fully shut down for a demonstration was in 1990 for the independent truckers protest.

Ward said truckers using the alternative route to Port Huron increases driving time, which raises concerns about how many hours the drivers will be working. He told the Detroit Free Press that he knew there was an expected slowdown of traffic but "I would bet most people didn't think there would be a complete closure."

The protestors also affected Montana after they blocked off access between Alberta and the state on Monday evening, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

"Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens' daily lives. It has to stop," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night.

In Ottawa, the government had to temporarily close streets and businesses because of the protests. Over the weekend, at least 450 citations were issued and more than 60 criminal investigations are underway including property damage and claims of hate crimes, police said Sunday, according to CNN.

"Those who are shouting at others because they're wearing a mask do not define what it is to be the majority of Canadians," he added.

The prime minister noted that almost 90 percent of truckers and 80 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated. Trudeau said the demonstrators represent a "small, fringe minority," CNN reported.

Update 2/8/22, 12:09 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Trucker Protest Shuts Down Bridge
The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit was closed for the first time in decades after Canadian protesters blocked access to it following protests over COVID-19 regulations. Above, people gather in protest against COVID restrictions, in Edmonton, Alberta, on February 5, 2022. Jason Franson /The Canadian Press/AP Photo