Ignoring public health orders to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 has landed an Airdrie couple fines totalling $2,250.
Tammy and Ethan Hiltz pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges under the Public Health Act of violating an order of the chief medical officer of health.
Both tested positive for the novel coronavirus last November after the husband came into contact with a co-worker with the disease.
After developing symptoms they each went for testing, the husband on Nov. 12, and the wife on Nov. 17. The day after their tests each received a text message from Alberta Health Services indicating positive results and they were required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Provincial court Judge Marlene Graham dismissed suggestions the couple believed their quarantine period ended on Nov. 20, because the husband came into contact with his co-worker on Nov. 6.
On Nov. 20 the couple and their four children went to the Balzac Costco store in violation of the order. Tammy Hiltz also went to a nearby Walmart that same day.
While the Crown sought a $1,200 fine for Ethan Hiltz and $3-4,000 in fines for his wife, Graham said because of financial constraints on the family due to the pandemic lesser fines were appropriate.
She ordered the husband to pay $750 and the wife, who pleaded guilty to two violations for entering both retail outlets, was fined $1,500.
Defence counsel Matthew Walton had suggested a $250 fine for Ethan and $750 for Tammy.
Graham said while it was suggested the wife was not wearing a mask, the woman told the court she was.
“It is confirmed that Mr. Hiltz was wearing a mask in Costco on the day in question, Mrs. Hiltz was not seen to be wearing one, but she says that she was,” the judge noted.
“In many ways, that’s somewhat beside the point. It would be aggravating if she wasn’t, but, I mean, that the point was they were not to be out and about anywhere because they were told to self-isolate,” she said.
“(They were) not to be out of the house, to remain in the home.”
The judge said an aggravating factor was that Tammy Hiltz posted on her Facebook page that she had tested positive.
“She also posted that she was going to Costco and she was opposed to wearing a mask … and this caused members of the public to complain about their behaviour.”
Graham said suggestions the couple was confused about when their quarantine ended defied logic considering how long the public health measures have been in place.
“They were quite prepared to risk others health and safety by going to box stores with their kids in tow. So I’m not buying their excuse.”
On Twitter: @KMartinCourts