Charges stayed against Kentucky man ticketed for breaching Quarantine Act in Banff

·2 min read

Charges have been stayed against a Kentucky man who was arrested under Canada's Quarantine Act while staying at a Banff hotel with a woman last summer.

John Pennington, who was travelling through Alberta from Alaska to the lower 48 states, was accused of failing to follow COVID-19 public safety rules twice while in Banff.

Nathalie Houle, a media spokesperson for the federal prosecution service, refused to explain why the decision was made to stay the charges.

On June 25, staff at the Rimrock Hotel called RCMP about a guest believed to be breaking the quarantine order.

Pennington was ticketed and given the option to pay the $1,200 fine or appear in court. He was told to stay in his hotel until he left the following day.

But the next day, RCMP found a vehicle with Ohio licence plates in the parking lot for the Sulpher Mountain gondola.

At that time, Pennington was arrested for breaching the federal Quarantine Act.

A conviction comes with a fine of up to $750,000 or six months in jail.

In a video posted to Facebook on June 25, 2020, Pennington tells his followers he is coming to them from "Rimrock, Calgary, Alberta in Canada."

It was the same day staff at the Rimrock Hotel called the RCMP about Pennington.

The 40-year-old, who calls himself "Mr. Collagen" and offers weight loss tips on his Facebook page, has since deleted a video posted from the Rimrock on June 26 where he expressed frustration for "being treated like a criminal" while staying at a "4 Star Resort."

'Alaska loophole'

At the time of his arrest, police said Pennington had entered Canada from Alaska a couple of days previously. He was required to travel a direct route through Canada to the United States.

Non-essential travel between Canada and the United States is prohibited but Americans are allowed to come through Canada to get home to or from Alaska.

They are required to use the most direct route under the Canada Border Services Agency's rules and are banned from driving through national parks, leisure sites and tourist locations.

Vehicles are given a tag to be hung from the rear view mirror indicating the date they must depart Canada.

In the summer, some Banff residents started calling the rule the "Alaska loophole" after spotting American plates around the tourism hotspot.