An American teenage girl has been sentenced to two months in jail for breaking quarantine after testing negative for the China-originated novel coronavirus upon arriving in the Cayman Islands and skirting a 14-day quarantine rule to watch her boyfriend perform in a jet-skiing competition.
Skylar Mack, an 18-year-old pre-med student from Georgia, and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Vanjae Ramgeet, were initially sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service and to pay a fine of around 3,100 U.S. dollars. However, prosecutors argued that the punishment was too lenient, and the pair were sentenced to four months behind bars. A panel on Tuesday reduced the jail time from four to two months.
Ramgeet, who did not break quarantine rules himself, was hit with aiding and abetting Mack.
“Whilst it was our hope that Skylar would be able to return home to resume her studies in January, we accept the decision of the court and look forward to receiving its written reasons in due course,” said lawyer Jonathon Hughes, who’s representing the pair.
Per the British territory’s strict COVID-19 restrictions, Mack was expected to stay quarantined for 14 days after she arrived in November and to test negative on day 15 before she was free to move about the islands. The teen was required to wear a “smart bracelet” and download an app on her phone so the government could keep tabs on her whereabouts during quarantine.
However, Mack arrived on a Friday, and her boyfriend’s jet-skiing competition was set for Sunday — 12 days before her quarantine was set to end.
“To elude the restrictions, Ms. Mack, after receiving a negative coronavirus test, slipped an electronic monitoring bracelet from her wrist and escaped to a beach on Grand Cayman’s South Sound, where she saw Mr. Ramgeet win first place,” The New York Times outlined. “But the event organizers were notified that Ms. Mack may have been in breach of the rules and the police were called, her lawyer said. Ms. Mack was charged with leaving her home during the quarantine period, and Mr. Ramgeet was charged with aiding and abetting her.”
Justice Roger Chapple said in court that Mack’s quarantine-break was “born of selfishness and arrogance.”
“This was as flagrant a breach as could be imagined,” said Justice Chapple, according to the Cayman Compass. “It was born of selfishness and arrogance.”
The Mack family has reportedly reached out to the Trump administration for help.
“This is infuriating. Skylar is an 18-year-old girl who left her hotel to watch her boyfriend compete in a jet ski competition… 4 months in jail?!” Eric Trump posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning, before the sentence was reduced to two months. “#FreeSkylar.”
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) December 22, 2020
“She just wants to come home,” Jeanne Mack, grandmother to the teen, pleaded on the “Today” show. “She knows she made a mistake, she owns to up to that, but she’s pretty hysterical right now,” she added.
“I’ll do everything to get you home, and when I get you here, I’m going to kick your butt,” Jeanne said, according to the Times. “We’re not saying, ‘poor, innocent Skylar.’ We’re simply saying the punishment does not meet the crime.”