A couple who breached quarantine rules have left Cayman and have been banned from returning while COVID-19 measures remain in place, authorities said Wednesday, as they announced that three other breaches are being investigated.
“While a single breach of quarantine protocols is regarded as one too many, there are an additional three cases associated to breaches of quarantine at residence protocols which are under investigation,” Travel Cayman Director Tasha Ebanks-Garcia said in a statement.
Pascal Terjanian, 52, and Cristina Gurunian, 34, appeared via Zoom before Summary Court on Monday and pleaded guilty of breaching quarantine-at-residence protocols.
According to a statement from Travel Cayman, which regulates travel into Cayman during COVID-19 restrictions, the couple departed the islands after paying their fines. Under existing protocols, Travel Cayman said, people who have arrived in Cayman can leave the islands within the mandatory 14-day isolation period if they return a negative COVID test a day before departure.
They were escorted to the airport by a Cayman Islands Airports Authority representative.
“Following confirmation of the breach, the couple were removed from their residence and taken to a supervised quarantine facility,” Travel Cayman said. “The couple were permitted to return to their residence for 24 hours in order to pack their belongings to prepare for their departure. A security officer was mandated by government and provided at the couple’s expense to accompany them to their residence and remain with them throughout this period.
“The couple were taken to the airport via government approved transport and remained supervised until their departure.”
According to the statement, Travel Cayman confirmed that the couple will not receive approval to travel if they reapply to return to the Cayman Islands while COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place.
Public Health conducted an investigation into the breach and carried out contact tracing to determine if any further steps need to be taken. “In this current case, there is no longer a public health concern,” the statement noted.
Following the breach, Travel Cayman said, its team held a meeting “to review and strengthen the current processes, and close any gaps in the system that could potentially be exploited”.
The court on Monday heard that the couple had left their residence in West Bay during their quarantine period. Police were called to their apartment on 19 Nov., after property managers alerted officers of the breaches. Court documents stated that the couple had been observed outside of their apartment without their geo-fencing wristbands and, during one incident, they were both recorded swimming in the ocean at the back of the property.
“Travellers will now have to pass through an additional checkpoint at the airport to confirm that the bracelet has been fitted correctly, to mitigate against tampering,” Travel Cayman said in the statement.
Since Cayman began its phased reopening of its borders on 1 Oct., 2,510 people have arrived on island, and just over 1,000 of those have received approval to quarantine at a residence, according to Ebanks-Garcia.
She said mobile compliance teams were conducting random spot checks on people who are quarantining at a residence and the call centre also makes contact to check how they are doing.
The statement issued by Travel Cayman did not address why no alert had been issued after the couple removed their bracelets.
Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne said in the release that there had been very few breaches of quarantine detected.
“However, in light of recent events, it is necessary to reinforce the message that persons subject to quarantine restrictions and that are found to be in breach of those restrictions will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said, adding that quarantine breachers face a maximum penalty of a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment of two years.
Byrne also reminded those in isolation that they are not permitted to receive visits from anyone during their quarantine period.
In the statement, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said everyone participating in the quarantine-in-residence programme is required to sign an agreement which outlines the terms and conditions which must be adhered to during quarantine.
“Compared to other countries, the Cayman Islands is doing exceedingly well at keeping the coronavirus at bay and keeping our Islands safe remains a top priority,” he said.
“Breaches of the COVID-19 regulations will therefore not be tolerated and we will seek to prosecute all confirmed violations. I urge every traveller, as well as their friends and loved ones, to remember that compliance with the quarantine restrictions is helping to protect lives, and we are relying on you to play your part by remaining in isolation for the stipulated period to keep the Cayman Islands safe.”