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Couple pleads guilty of travelling to Yukon for COVID shot

Line jumpers plead guilty

A husband and wife who flew to a remote Yukon community to receive early doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in January have pleaded guilty in a territorial court.

Rodney Baker, the former CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., and his wife Ekaterina Baker appeared remotely on Wednesday in a Whitehorse courtroom to plead guilty to two counts each of violating of the territory's Civil Emergency Measures Act.

They were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon.

The court heard the couple from Vancouver stated their purpose for coming to Yukon was visiting, tourism and education, but two days after arriving they chartered a plane to Beaver Creek, a small community near the Alaska border.

They were vaccinated at a mobile clinic before flying back to Whitehorse, where enforcement officers intercepted them as they were trying to leave for Vancouver.

The former gaming executive and actress were handed violation tickets and charges carrying maximum fines of $500 each, six months in jail, or both.

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission, ordering the Bakers to pay the maximum fine for each charge, a total of $1,000 each, plus a victim surcharge, but the couple won't spend any time in jail.

The court heard the Bakers had each donated $5,000 to the global vaccine sharing effort known as COVAX, while the judge encouraged the couple to offer their reparations directly to Beaver Creek, which is home to the White River First Nation.

"This is a community that immediately suffered the impact of what I would call a somewhat cavalier approach to entering into the community, kind of thoughtless as to what the impacts on the community could be," Cozens said.

The Bakers declined an opportunity to address the court, but their lawyer said they apologize unreservedly and they regret the significant impact of their actions.



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