Plans fizzle for major trucker virus protest in Brussels

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People walk by vehicles with banners and flags parked outside the city center of Brussels, early Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. Authorities in France and Belgium have banned road blockades threatened by groups organizing online against COVID-19 restrictions. The events are in part inspired by protesters in Canada. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

BRUSSELS – 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. 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 virus 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 the 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.

In the Netherlands, dozens of trucks and other vehicles arrived Saturday in The Hague for a similar virus-related protest, blocking an entrance to the historic Dutch parliamentary complex.

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