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Thousands protest vaccine mandates, Covid restrictions in Canada

Trucks and protesters block streets in Ottawa (Photo: IANS)

Hundreds of trucks and thousands of protesters blocked the streets toward downtown Ottawa on Saturday to protest the government's vaccine mandates required to cross the Canada-US border.

The protest is part of a self-titled "Freedom Convoy 2022", which started out as a rally of truckers against the requirement that Canadian truck drivers crossing the border into the US be fully vaccinated as of mid-January, Xinhua news agency reported.

After being joined by thousands of other protesters, it then turned into a demonstration against the government's overall restrictive measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The crowd gathered around the Parliament Hill, waving flags and banners and chanting slogans against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is self-isolating after one of his children tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The increasing number of protesters prompted police to prepare for the possibility of violence. As of Saturday night, no injuries or deaths were reported.

Parliament members were advised by the head of House of Commons security, Sergeant-at-Arms Patrick McDonell, to "go somewhere else" if a demonstration occurred at their personal residences or constituency offices, and to "refrain from posting anything related to the demonstration on social media."