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No fines for Qualicum Beach couple in COVID-test case

They had each been assessed a $5,700 fine for returning home to Canada without COVID test results
Charles and Susan Lee of Qualicum Beach do not have to pay COVID-19-related fines totalling $11,400 after their court case was dropped. Via Charles Lee

A Qualicum Beach couple will not have to pay $11,400 in fines that were levied after they crossed the border from the U.S. in January before receiving their COVID-19 test results. Charles and Susan Lee were each fined $5,700 after returning to B.C. following a trip to California in November.

After arriving home, they had a virtual court date set for June 16 to enter a plea.

Charles Lee said that the prosecutor’s office sent an email asking for the results of tests they had taken in Fresno, which were negative.

The day before their court date, another email arrived saying the matter was being stayed and they would not be required to pay a fine, he said.

It was a “nice gesture” on the part of the Crown’s office to reach out and ask for the test results, he said, adding common sense prevailed. “It was certainly a great relief. My wife was getting very anxious about it.”

The couple had headed for home from California in January, stopping in Fresno for a PCR COVID-19 test. They were told the results would be ready within 24 to 48 hours.

The Lees continued north to the Peace Arch border crossing. But the test results did not show up.

When they were at the crossing, they met with both a Canada Border Services Agency official and a Health Canada representative about the situation. At that time, test results were required to cross the border.

With Omicron surging, results from another test could have taken up to 10 days, which would have been beyond Canada’s 72-hour requirement, Lee said.

As they were considering what to do, Susan Lee, 72, experienced severe stomach pains and Charles wanted to return home so she could be treated by Canada’s health-care system.

The couple chose to cross the border without test results and face the fines. They had to agree to two weeks quarantine. Susan Lee ended up spending five days in Nanaimo hospital, where she was treated for pancreatitis.

The Lees complied with the quarantine and after reaching Qualicum Beach, the Fresno results came in showing that they were negative for COVID.

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