Paris and Brussels police ban ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests

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Brussels bans ‘freedom convoy’ protesting COVID curbs from entry

BRUSSELS, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Brussels authorities have banned a pan-European “freedom convoy” of motorists protesting COVID-19 restrictions from entering the Belgian capital, the regional government said in a statement on Thursday.

The convoy was expected to arrive at the home of European Union institutions and NATO on Monday. Authorities in Paris had earlier banned the convoy.

Protesters set out from southern France on Wednesday in what they called a “freedom convoy” that will converge on Paris and Brussels to demand an end to COVID-19 restrictions, inspired by demonstrators who have gridlocked the Canadian capital Ottawa.

“The Federal Police will control motorised vehicles on the main roads to Brussels that come to demonstrate in Belgium. The Region and the City of Brussels will issue decrees banning demonstrations with trucks on their territory,” a statement from the Brussels region said, adding they had not received yet any request to protest.

In Canada, horn-blaring demonstrations demanding an end to Canadian COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers have gridlocked capital Ottawa for weeks and have now spilled over to key Canada-United States border crossings.

The Paris police authority said it had decided to ban the so-called motorists’ “Freedom Convoy” from holding protests in the French capital from February 11-February 14.

Protesters had set out from southern France on Wednesday in what they call a “freedom convoy” that will converge on Paris and Brussels to demand an end to COVID-19 restrictions, inspired by demonstrators who have blocked a Canadian border crossing.

About 200 protesters assembled in a parking lot in Nice, on France’s Mediterranean coast, with many displaying Canadian flags in a nod to the truckers in Canada who are protesting their government’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Tassilo Hummel

Photo – A woman waves Canadian and French flags as people gather for the ‘Freedom Convoy’ before heading to Paris, in Nice, France, 09 February 2022. A series of convoy demonstrations has been taking place in France to call for the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates, in light of the ongoing protest in Canada, where truck drivers have been rallying against the government-imposed mandatory Covid-19 vaccine to enter the country. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

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