Some Canadian Provinces Lift COVID Restrictions Amid Ongoing Protests

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THURSDAY, Feb. 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Four Canadian provinces said this week that they'll lift their COVID-19 restrictions as the wave of cases caused by the Omicron variant has crested nationwide.

The moves come in the midst of ongoing protests by groups decrying Canada's vaccine passport program and other virus precautions. Protests include blockades by so-called "Freedom Convoy" truckers that have crippled traffic at key border crossings and the capital city of Ottawa, the Associated Press reported.

The new easing of restrictions was announced by Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. But Ontario, the country's largest province, plans to continue with its phased lifting of restrictions in what it calls a "very cautious" approach to the pandemic, the AP reported.

“We have no plans currently to drop the passport vaccination situation or masking. We believe that masking is going to be important for some time to come," Ontario Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

"We've always said we're going to take a very cautious, phased, prudent approach to opening up and that's the path we're going to follow," she said.

Canada has had tighter COVID-19 restrictions than the United States, and the measures have been supported by the majority of people in the country, where the COVID-19 death rate is one-third that of the United States, the AP reported.

But a minority of protestors have wreaked havoc in certain areas this month. A blockade by more than 400 trucks has stopped traffic in downtown Ottawa, while truckers have blocked border crossings at Coutts, Alberta and Windsor, Ontario.

The bridge border crossing at Windsor carries one-quarter of all trade between the United States and Canada, the AP noted, and the blockade's effects on the Canadian economy has some lawmakers worried.

"When this bridge is closed for an hour, the auto sector notices," Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said, referring to the auto industry located in and around Windsor and Detroit. "When it is closed for a number of days, people start demanding action, and we hear you. We're not going to let this happen for a prolonged period of time.”

The majority of Canadians appear to be in support of some COVID-19 restrictions, however, and more than 84% of people in Canada have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the AP, about 90% of truckers in Canada are vaccinated, and trucker associations and many big-rig operators have denounced the protests, which many believe are based in far-right political extremism.

"We're all tired, yes, we're all frustrated, but we continue to be there for each other," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. "We continue to know that science and public health rules and guidance is the best way through this pandemic."

More information

There's more on COVID-19 vaccination at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


SOURCE: Associated Press


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