Two Yukon University students whose violation of COVID-19 self-isolation requirements led to the school’s Whitehorse campus being closed for two days in September have been fined $700 each.
Honey Rain Catholique and Kyrsten Laurie Jonasson both pleaded guilty to two counts each under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) in territorial court in Whitehorse on Oct. 6 — failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to behave in accordance with a declaration form.
It was their first appearance on the charges.
According to facts read to the court by Crown attorney Kelly McGill, both women arrived at the check-stop in Watson Lake on Aug. 31.
They had travelled from the Northwest Territories, but, because they had driven through Alberta, were subject to a mandatory self-isolation period.
On their declarations, Catholique and Jonasson both wrote that they would be self-isolating at an address in Porter Creek; however, McGill said, neither of them actually went there, instead going directly to Yukon University’s student housing instead. They then stayed overnight before entering campus the next day, the first day of school, to collect their books.
McGill said they were flagged due to the university’s screening processes and CEMA officers began an investigation. When they spoke to Catholique and Jonasson, both initially denied that they’d spent time in Alberta but later admitted that they had, explaining that “difficulties” had arisen with the address in Porter Creek they had been planning to self-isolate at.
They were cooperative after that point and completed their self-isolations at a designated centre.
The Crown, McGill said, was seeking a $350 fine for each charge (the maximum penalty under CEMA is a $500 fine, six months’ jail time, or both). It was aggravating that Catholique and Jonasson entered a communal living area and then the university itself, she said, leading to “significant impacts” as the campus had to close as a precautionary measure after it was discovered the women hadn’t self-isolated.
However, it was mitigating that both women appeared in court on the first day possible and pleaded guilty, McGill said, also noting that they were students with limited financial resources.
Given a chance to address the court, Jonasson acknowledged that “a lot of matters” got “messy” because of her and Catholique’s decisions, and that she felt the fine being requested was a fair amount.
Catholique said she agreed with Jonasson, adding that she wanted to apologize for their actions.
“I’m sorry… I don’t have anything else to say,” she said.
Justice of the Peace Sharman Morrison accepted the Crown’s submissions, fining both women $700 each.
She waived a surcharge that normally would have been added on to each charge.
Catholique and Jonasson have a year to pay.
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