Skylar Mack, 18, and her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, have been in prison since Dec. 15, when they were taken into custody for disregarding the British territory’s 14-day COVID-19 quarantine.
Mack, a pre-med student at Mercer University, traveled to the island on Nov. 27 and, following a negative test for the virus, was instructed to remain in isolation for two weeks. But after two days, she removed her government-provided tracking device to watch Ramgeet compete in a jet-ski event.
According to the Cayman Compass, Mack spent seven hours at the crowded event. She didn’t wear a mask or attempt to distance herself from other spectators, and initially lied to officers who approached her and asked how long she’d been on the island.
Mack’s grandmother Jeanne wrote a letter to President Donald Trump seeking his help in hastening her granddaughter’s return.
“She cries, she wants to come home,” Jeanne told the “Today” show on Monday. “She knows she made a mistake. She owns up to that, but she’s pretty hysterical right now.”
The island chain has reported just 316 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths throughout the pandemic — low totals that can be at least partially attributed to their no-nonsense quarantine policy.
A judge initially sentenced Mack and Ramgeet each to 40 hours of community service and a $2,600 fine. Prosecutors appealed the sentence, however, urging the court to impose a stiffer judgment in the hopes of deterring others from similar behavior.
Justice Roger Chapple, who heard the appeal, agreed.
“This was as flagrant a breach as could be imagined; it was borne of selfishness and arrogance,” Chapple said in announcing the stricter penalty. “This was entirely deliberate and planned, as evidenced by [Mack’s] desire to switch her wristband the day before to a looser one that she was then able to remove.”