A Kentucky man could face a fine of up to $750,000 or six months in jail for allegedly violating a quarantine order in the Alberta Rockies in late June.
John Pennington, 40, was initially given a $1,200 ticket on June 25 after staff at a Banff hotel called the RCMP saying they believed the United States citizen was violating the Alberta Public Health Act during the COVID-19 pandemic.
American visitors have been able to use a loophole allowing them to travel through Canada on the way to and from Alaska.
“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.
She said officers received a second complaint the next day after someone spotted a car with American plates in a parking lot near the gondola to Sulphur Mountain.
“They located Mr. Pennington up on Sulphur Mountain. As a result of him again allegedly being in violation of the quarantine through his travels, there was some consultation with a quarantine officer in Calgary and the decision was made to charge Mr. Pennington under the federal Quarantine Act,” Keibel said.
“He was arrested and subsequently released for a court date in November.”
Keibel said there were nine tickets given out in Alberta by the end of June and the one charge under the Quarantine Act but she wasn’t aware of any others.
She said those violating the rules are given strict instructions and Pennington had received a warning after his initial ticket.
“You don’t expect it. You would hope people would follow the direction provided and comply with the laws in place, especially after it was made clear what the expectations are,” she said.
Keibel said Pennington was escorted out of the park boundaries and told to continue on his journey.
Stricter rules were put into place as of July 31 for Americans entering Canada who say they are headed to Alaska.
The Canada Border Services Agency only allows such travellers to enter at one of five crossings: Abbotsford-Huntingdon (British Columbia), Kingsgate (British Columbia), Osoyoos (British Columbia), Coutts (Alberta) and North Portal (Saskatchewan).
Drivers are allowed a reasonable period of stay to make the transit and are limited to travel within Canada using the most direct route to Alaska.
They are barred from driving through national parks, leisure sites and tourism locations and receive a hang tag for their rear-view mirror indicating the date they must depart Canada.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
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