Plans fizzle for trucker COVID protest in Brussels

Vehicle with word "Freedom" in tape in its window.
A vehicle with the word “Freedom” written in tape in its window sits parked outside the city center of Brussels early Monday.
(Olivier Matthys / Associated Press)

Plans for a major trucker virus protest near the European Union headquarters in Brussels fizzled Monday, with police filtering traffic during the morning rush hour to leave only a few scattered demonstrators on foot instead.

Police narrowed some highways and imposed go-slow traffic early Monday in and around the Belgian capital to keep control of what it feared could turn into a choking protest like those by horn-honking truckers in Canada who paralyzed downtown Ottawa. Early indications didn’t show a groundswell of support for the protest, but police took extensive precautions.

“We don’t actually think that Brussels has been paralyzed. Anyone who wanted to enter Brussels with good intentions was able to do so — with some delay, of course,” said federal police spokeswoman An Berger.

Instead, a few hundred people protesting COVID-19 restrictions gathered in a square in the Belgian capital.


Many trucks had been expected from France, where Paris police fired tear gas Saturday against a handful of demonstrators on famed Champs-Elysees Avenue who defied a police order by taking part in a vehicle protest. But a threatened blockade of Paris failed to materialize over the weekend, despite days of online organizing efforts.

The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing reopens after truckers and supporters protested against COVID-19 restrictions and closed it for almost a week.

In the Netherlands, dozens of trucks and other vehicles — including tractors and a car towing a camper van — arrived in The Hague for a similar COVID-related protest Saturday, blocking an entrance to the historic Dutch parliamentary complex.