American tourist faces £430,000 fine after breaking Canadian quarantine rules

An American man passing through Canada faces a fine of up to C$750,000 (£432,000) or six months in jail after violating quarantine rules.

John Pennington, 40, from Kentucky crossed into Canada from Alaska in June, stopping off at the Rimrock Hotel in Banff.

He was first fined C$1,200 (£690) on 25 June after hotel staff called the police to report that they suspected he may have broken quarantine.

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Americans are banned from travelling into Canada for “discretionary” reasons due to current coronavirus restrictions.

They are only allowed to drive through the country to get between Alaska and the other mainland US states if it’s for an essential purpose such as work or going to a primary residence, providing they take the most direct route and avoid all national parks, leisure sites and tourism activities.

Those in transit are encouraged to stay in their vehicle as much as possible, avoid contact with others and to use drive-thrus if they need food.

Hotel stays are only permitted if transiting guests remain in their room at all times.

After the initial fine, police told Pennington to stay in his room until he set off the next day, reminding him to travel directly to the States, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Tammy Keibel told NPR.

However, Pennington was caught breaching the rules again the following day, as he opted to stop off at local tourist attraction Sulphur Mountain.

Officials caught up with him after a local reported seeing a car with Ohio licence plates.

“Investigators determined Mr Pennington had not left town as required on the morning of June 26 but had chosen to visit a popular tourist site,” Banff Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr told CBC News.

“There are amenities available for essential needs, food and lodging, at the hotel. There was no legitimate reason to go up to Sulphur Mountain.”

Pennington has now been charged with breaching the federal Quarantine Act and will appear in court in November.

According to the Canadian government, “Failure to comply with the current border restrictions is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to $750,000 in fines, and/or imprisonment of up to six months.”

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