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Cayman Islands Jails Mercer University Student for Breaching COVID-19 Rules

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An 18-year-old US college student has been sentenced to four months in jail in the Cayman Islands for breaching COVID-19 measures put in place by the autonomous British overseas territory.

Her boyfriend, a professional jet skier, has also received a four month jail sentence for aiding and abetting her.  

Skylar Mack, a medical student of Mercer University in Georgia, and her 24-year-old partner, a native of the Cayman Islands, have pleaded guilty but their lawyer, Jonathon Hughes, said he will argue for a lesser sentence.

“They’re two young people who have never been in trouble before,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “This is the first time they’ve had interaction with police, the courts, prison.”

Quarantine Violation Two Days After Arrival

Mack violated her two-week mandatory quarantine period two days after her arrival on November 27, The Associated Press reported, attending a water park along with her boyfriend.

The couple was initially ordered to provide 40 hours of community service and pay a $4,400 fine, but the prosecutor appealed the punishment, arguing it was too lenient.

The judge then sentenced the couple to 15 months in prison but reduced it to four after their guilty plea.

Mack and her boyfriend have been in prison since December 15.

Couple Acted Selfishly: Judge

During their sentencing on Tuesday, the judge said the couple acted in a selfish and arrogant manner, singling out Mack for spending hours in a public space without wearing a face mask.

“This was entirely deliberate and planned, as evidenced by her desire to switch her wristband the day before to a looser one that she was then able to remove,” the Cayman Compass newspaper quoted the judge, referring to the electronic tracking device anyone traveling to the territory must wear during their 14-day quarantine.

The couple’s lawyer told The Associated Press that Mack’s family is worried about her “because she’s in prison in a foreign country on her own.” He added that while Mack brought it on herself, “it’s very distressing for her.”

The Cayman Islands, a territory of nearly 62,000 people, has reported 310 coronavirus cases and two deaths.

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