Skyler Mack, 18, had traveled to the Cayman Islands on November 27 to meet her boyfriend and attend his jet ski race.
The Cayman Islands are very strict when it comes to their quarantine rules as they decided to make an example out of an American teen. Skyler Mack, an 18-year-old woman from Georgia, had only been in the Cayman Islands for a week before she was arrested for breaking their rules.
The Cayman Islands authorities expect people to get tested for COVID-19 before traveling there, which is what Skyler did. The pre-med student at Mercer University left for the islands on November 27. She also got tested after reaching the archipelago. Her test results were negative both times. However, she was told to isolate for two weeks and she didn't do that. Skyler, the daughter of a professional jet skier, went to attend her boyfriend Vanjae Ramgeet's jet ski competition two days after arriving, reported CNN.
She was supposed to stay in her hotel room for 14 days. Instead, she removed the electronic monitoring bracelet from her wrist and escaped to a beach on Grand Cayman’s South Sound to watch him win first place, according to the Baltimore Sun.
18 y.o. Skyler Mack & her boyfriend Vanjae Ramgeet have been sentenced to 4 months in prison after intentionally breaking COVID quarantine protocols while visiting the Cayman Islands.— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) December 18, 2020
Skyler removed her geotracking bracelet and they were not wearing masks https://t.co/21fW1lBiDf pic.twitter.com/k0oYQphnL2
She had gone to the Islands to meet her 24-year-old boyfriend. People who attended the race and knew Skyler reported her for breaching her isolation. She was arrested by officials and so was Vanjae for aiding and abetting her in the breach, according to CNN.
The Georgia college student and her boyfriend were sentenced to four months in prison initially but they received a reduced jail time. They pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with COVID-19-suppression regulations, as per Cayman Compass. On the day she broke the quarantine rules, she reportedly interacted with others for more than seven hours and wasn't wearing a mask when the police arrived. She also didn't practice social distancing.
They had been sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a fine of 2,600 Cayman Island dollars, the standard cost of isolating at a government quarantine facility. "This was as flagrant a breach as could be imagined," Justice Roger Chapple said. "It was borne of selfishness and arrogance."
WPVI-TV: US college student Skyler Mack jailed for breaking quarantine in Cayman Islands.https://t.co/mGcILob05G— XAVIER SHAKUR (@XAV1ERSHAKUR007) December 19, 2020
The authorities in the Islands wanted stricter sentences. Director of Public Prosecution Patrick Moran said, "These offenses should have been met with far more stringent measures. When it comes to a matter of deterrence, the sentence imposed are likely to have little to no effect on other like-minded individuals."
The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal reduced their prison sentence to two months on December 22, according to CNN. The court agreed that the original term was not appropriate in this case. The couple accepted the decision of the court though they had hoped "Skylar would be able to return home to resume her studies in January," said their attorney Jonathon Hughes.
"Ms. Mack and Mr. Ramgeet continue to express remorse for their actions and ask for the forgiveness of the people of the Cayman Islands," he said.
Skyler's family pleaded for her release and said that she was remorseful for her actions. "She cries; she wants to come home," the student’s grandmother, Jeanne Mack, said before the sentence was reduced, as per the Baltimore Sun. "She knows she made a mistake. She owns up to that, but she’s pretty hysterical right now," she added.
Her family, who live in suburban Atlanta, managed to get letters from friends and family attesting to her character. They tried their best to get the sentence overturned on appeal but that only helped her receive a reduced sentence. Jeanne also wrote to President Donald Trump for help. She received a response from the Office of Presidential Correspondence stating that her correspondence had been forwarded “to the appropriate federal agency for further action."
18-year-old Skyler Mack arrived in the Cayman Islands on Nov. 27 and was supposed to undergo a two-week quarantine as mandated by the government, which electronically tracks anyone who arrives in the British Caribbean territory.https://t.co/es0HerpGXT— KTXS News (@KTXS_News) December 22, 2020
"I’ll do everything to get you home, and when I get you here, I’m going to kick your butt," Jeanne said. "We’re not saying, ‘poor, innocent Skylar.’ We’re simply saying the punishment does not meet the crime."
The British territory of almost 65,000 residents has had only 316 infections and two deaths until December 21. They have had no reported cases of local transmission since July.