American man could face hefty fine and jail time for violating Canada’s Quarantine Act
The man allegedly broke quarantine rules twice and now has a court date for November
An American man has been accused of violating Canada’s coronavirus quarantine rules — twice. If found guilty of the charges, he faces a fine of up to $569,000 ($750,000 Canadian) as well as six months in prison, NPR reports.
Canada closed its borders to American citizens on March 21, in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. However, Americans are still allowed to travel through Canada if they are traveling to or from Alaska.
This has been called the Alaska loophole.
The Canada Border Services Agency directs Americans on the “most direct route through Canada” to their destination. It is prohibited for them to visit national parks or any leisure or tourist attractions. Americans also must quarantine when staying at a hotel, and hang a display tag on their vehicle with a departure date, NPR reported.
In late June, Banff Royal Canadian Mounted Police received a call from staff at a nearby hotel reporting that Pennington was likely in violation of the quarantine order.
“Staff at the hotel were concerned about an American guest they thought was breaching the quarantine,” Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr told CBC. “He had entered Canada from Alaska a couple of days previously. He was required to travel a direct route on his way to the Lower 48 states.”
Pennington was initially issued a $900 ($1,200 Canadian) ticket and was ordered to stay in his hotel room until leaving the following morning to return to the U.S., CBC reported.
Pennington was spotted at Sulphur Mountain, a popular tourist attraction, the next morning.
Pennington told police he was looking for food, but officials said there are restaurants at the hotel where he was staying, according to NPR.
“There are amenities available for essential needs, food and lodging, at the hotel. There was no legitimate reason to go up to Sulphur Mountain,” Buxton-Carr told CBC.
Pennington was then arrested for violating Canada’s Quarantine Act and is expected to appear in Canadian court in November.
Several Americans have been stopped and ticketed for violating these rules. However, this is the first arrest, according to Travel + Leisure.