Canadian police cleared protesters and vehicles that had blocked a vital trade route on the border with the United States, arresting remaining protesters, marking the end of the "economic crisis".

The protesters have been blocking the crossing that sees 25 percent of all trade between Canada and the US.
The protesters have been blocking the crossing that sees 25 percent of all trade between Canada and the US. (AP)

Police have moved in to clear and arrest the remaining protesters near the busiest US-Canadian border bridge, trying to end a demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions that has hurt the economy of both nations.

"Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end," Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a statement, referring to the heavy toll on trade and other business caused by the blockade.
"Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination," the mayor added.

The United States reported that Canadian authorities intended to reopen the bridge on Sunday following safety checks by the police, praising what it said was Canada's "decisive law enforcement efforts".

Only a few protesters had remained after police on Saturday persuaded demonstrators to move their pickup trucks and others cars that they used to block a crossing that sees 25 percent of all trade between the two countries.

With the bridge closed, auto plants on both sides have been forced to shut down or reduce production. The standoff came at a time when the industry is already struggling to maintain production in the face of pandemic-induced shortages of computer chips and other supply-chain disruptions.

READ MORE: Canadian police start to clear key bridge from demonstrators

‘All options are on the table’

“Enforcement will continue in the demonstration area and there will be zero tolerance for illegal activity. The public should avoid the area,” Windsor police said on Sunday.

The protests have reverberated across the country and beyond, with similar convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

The US Department of Homeland Security warned that truck convoys may be in the works in the United States.

In Ottawa, the ranks of protesters swelled to what police said were 4,000 demonstrators on Saturday. The city has seen similar expansions on past weekends, and loud music played as people milled about downtown where anti-vaccine demonstrators have been encamped since late January.

Trudeau has so far rejected calls to use the military, but had said that "all options are on the table” to end the protests that have slowed industries on both sides of the border.

Trudeau has called the protesters a “fringe” of Canadian society. Both federal and provincial politicians have said they can't order police what to do.

Ottawa police said in a statement late on Saturday that a joint command center had been established with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

They said that would beef up enforcement capabilities that had been limited by “safety concerns, arising from aggressive, illegal behavior by many demonstrators…”

READ MORE: Canadian court rules protesters to clear area

Source: TRTWorld and agencies