“I say to those who come from abroad: look at the rules in Belgium. We never had rules that were too hard and we don’t have so many anymore. So complain at home,” he said Friday.
Checks are planned at the border and vehicles coming to the capital despite the ban will be diverted, Belgian authorities warned.
Brussels airport also advised travellers to take precautions on Monday and come by train for fear of blocking access routes.
The self-proclaimed “freedom convoy” is one of several worldwide inspired by a truckers’ standoff with authorities in Canada over vaccine mandates.
Protest organisers have been calling for weeks for the removal of Trudeau’s government, although most of the restrictive measures were put in place by provincial governments.
On Tuesday, the organisers withdrew an unlawful demand that the nation’s governor general, the representative of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, force federal and provincial governments to lift all Covid-19 restrictions, including vaccine mandates. They now say they support Canada’s constitution and the democratic process.
François Laporte, the president of Teamsters Canada, which represents over 55,000 drivers, including 15,000 long-haul truckers, said the protests do not represent the industry in which 90% of drivers are vaccinated.
The Freedom Convoy “and the despicable display of hate led by the political Right and shamefully encouraged by elected conservative politicians does not reflect the values of Teamsters Canada, nor the vast majority of our members,” Laporte said in a statement.
Canada’s largest trucking company is virtually untouched by the vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border, said Alain Bédard, chairman and CEO of TFI International Inc.
“Vaccination at TFI is not an issue at all,” he said. The company’s few unvaccinated drivers are kept in Canada.
Locals say they are being terrorised
The protests have also infuriated people who live around downtown Ottawa, including neighbourhoods near Parliament Hill, the seat of the federal government.
Dave Weatherall, a federal civil servant, lives near the truckers’ prime staging area in a city-owned parking lot outside of the downtown core. “They’re using the lot to terrorise people,” he said.
“It’s the first time since having kids that I’ve seriously wondered about the world we brought them into. I always figured they could handle most things the world will throw at them, but this feels different,” he added.
Ottawa’s city manager said all tow-truck companies on contract with the city have refused to haul away the big rigs.
Joel Lightbound, a lawmaker for Trudeau’s Liberal Party, rebuked his leader Tuesday for dividing Canadians and said his government needs to create a road map for when coronavirus measures should be lifted.
“It is time we stopped dividing people, to stop pitting one part of the population against each other,” Lightbound said.
“We’re all tired of Covid”
While French police counted 3,000 vehicles outside Paris on Friday evening, only around a hundred made it to the Champs-Elysees avenue in the heart of the capital on Saturday before being forced out after officers deployed tear gas to disperse the protesters.
In Canada, police on Sunday cleared demonstrators who had occupied a key US border bridge for a week but thousands of protesters remained in the capital Ottawa, where they have paralysed the city centre.
The French protest movement brings together those opposed to the Covid vaccine pass required to access many public venues but also some angry at rising energy and food prices, issues which ignited the “yellow vest” protests that shook France in late 2018 and early 2019.
The French government has said it plans to relax face mask mandates by February 28, and is hoping to end the vaccine pass requirement by late March or early April.