Travel | August 25, 2020 12:16 pm

Here’s What Happens If You Sneak Into Canada During a Pandemic

For one U.S. visitor, the penalty is potentially severe and jail-worthy

One American was caught sightseeing at Alberta's Banff National Park
George Rose/Getty Images

Turns out Canada’s not that nice.

American citizen John Pennington is facing up to a $568,000 fine for twice violating quarantine orders while driving through Canada, apparently while attempting to exploit a loophole in Canada’s COVID-19 border policy. As has been the case since March 20th, the United States and Canada have jointly restricted all non-essential travel across its borders. While there are exceptions for trade, commerce and work, the policy is pretty clear (and it was extended and updated on August 14th).

However, Americans (COVID-free, of course) can enter Canada if they’re traveling to Alaska … provided they don’t drive through national parks, leisure sites or tourism locations.

Those are the rules. But authorities were called for two separate travel infractions by Pennington in Alberta’s Banff National Park, with the first transgression earning a four-figure fine and the second requiring a court date in the future, where that fine could hit the high six figures and put Pennington in jail for up to six months.

As the report by Unofficial Networks points out, Canada still handles international incidents a bit more pleasantly than we do. “Pennington was escorted out of the park boundaries and told to continue on his journey,” they wrote.

That said, some Canadians are taking Americans sneaking across the border to task.

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