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Kentuckian accused of breaking Canada COVID rules faces fine

Accused of violating a Canadian quarantine act — twice — could cost a Kentuckian $750,000, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

John Pennington of Walton was found breaking COVID-19 regulations when he was at an Alberta hotel, Cpl. Tammy Keibel told McClatchy News. The next day, Pennington was spotted at a popular Canadian tourist attraction, leading to his arrest, Keibel said.

Americans are prohibited from visiting Canada due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, some have used a loophole that allows them to travel through Canada to get to Alaska, according to The Guardian. The Canadian government said Americans traveling through their country must avoid “all national parks, leisure sites and tourism activities”

But Pennington was taking the “scenic route” on his way to Alaska, Keibel said.

Pennington, 40, was initially given a $1,200 citation June 25 when a Banff hotel worker told police he was likely violating the Alberta Public Health Act. He was found with a Calgary woman at the hotel despite being required to quarantine, according to Keibel.

She said the mounted police received another complaint the following day when Pennington’s car was spotted at nearby Sulphur Mountain, which the CBC News calls a “tourism hotspot.”

Pennington was arrested and charged with violating the Canadian Quarantine Act, according to Keibel. He is due in court in November and if he is convicted, he could face up to a $750,000 fine and six months in jail.

When Americans cross the Canadian border traveling to Alaska, border officials instruct them with the most direct route and tell drivers to stay on the route, Keibel said.

“The vast majority of Americans and vehicles with American license plates are people who are here for legitimate reasons,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr told CBC News. “This is the only arrest we have made under the Quarantine Act and the Banff RCMP detachment has only issued one ticket so far.”

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Mike Stunson covers real-time news for McClatchy. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter and the Lexington Herald-Leader as a breaking news reporter.
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