Officials in the United States, Canada and Europe are taking steps to address the growing effects of the “freedom convoy” against COVID-19 mandates, which could affect the Super Bowl this weekend. In a bulletin to local and state law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it has received reports that truckers are planning to “potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities”. While there is already a plan in place for a trucker convoy to begin in California next month, DHS said one could start as early as this weekend. That convoy could affect Super Bowl LVI, which is set to take place Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
“The Department of Homeland Security is fundamentally a department of partnerships, and those partnerships are critical to ensuring the safety and security of Super Bowl operations as well as that of the surrounding community,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a Wednesday statement on Super Bowl security.
As momentum for a “freedom convoy” in the U.S. builds, so do the effects of the current protests in Canada. The blockade at the largest land crossing between the U.S. and Canada stretched to its fourth day Thursday. To avoid the blockade, truckers had to drive 70 miles north to a different bridge that has since also become a source of bottlenecks.
The effects of the “freedom convoy” blockade have intensified for the auto industries in both countries. Ford said its Windsor, Ontario, engine plant reopened Thursday after being shut down on Wednesday because of a lack of parts. GM canceled the second shift on Wednesday and the first and second on Thursday at its SUV factory outside Lansing, Michigan. And Toyota said three of its plants in Ontario, Canada, closed for the rest of the week because of parts shortages. According to Canada’s minister of public safety, it’s not just the auto industry.
“We’re talking about farmers and ranchers in Alberta who can’t sell their meat in the U.S. because they no longer have the ability to go through the Coutts-Sweetgrass border crossing,” Marco Mendicino said Wednesday. “We’re talking about retail employees in Ottawa who for quite some time now have been unable to go back to work.”
The “freedom convoy” has caught the attention of European officials as well, with authorities in Paris and Belgium banning road blockades. Online chat groups have been calling on drivers to converge on Paris starting Friday night and to continue on to Brussels on Monday.