A Kentucky man faces a $569,000 fine and six months in jail after allegedly breaking Canadian quarantine rules twice.
John Pennington, 40, of Walton, was initially fined $910 on June 25th after hotel staff called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) because they believed he was violating the country’s quarantine laws, according to NPR.
Canada closed its border to Americans in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The only exception is for Americans traveling through Canada to get to Alaska or the lower 48 states. Those U.S. citizens must take the most direct route, are not allowed to visit national parks or other tourist sites, and must quarantine if they stay at a hotel on the route.
After Pennington arrived to Rimrock Hotel in Banff, he raised eyebrows after a hotel employee observed him with another individual. The employee then alerted RCMP of his suspicions.
"RCMP attended the hotel and as a result of their investigation, they found a second individual in his presence, a female from Calgary, and found him to be breaching the requirements to quarantine while he travelled through Alberta so he was issued a ticket under the Alberta Public Health Act," said RCMP Cpl. Tammy Keibel in Calgary, according to Local12.
After getting the $1200 fine, Pennington was supposed to leave the next day, but opted to go sightseeing instead.
Police received another complaint after Pennington’s car was spotted at Sulphur Mountain, a popular tourist spot.
Pennington was arrested and charged with violating the Canadian Quarantine Act. He is scheduled to appear in court in November and faces a fine of $569,000 and six months in jail.
While he is the only American to be arrested for violating the country’s quarantine rules so far, RCMP has issued nine citations to U.S. citizens since the start of the pandemic, noted NPR.
"The vast majority of Americans and vehicles with American license plates are people who are here for legitimate reasons," said Banff Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr.