The pandemic showed demonstrations of solidarity and empathy; also acts of infamy and selfishness. Game industry millionaire Rodney Baker (55) and film actress Ekaterina Baker (32) caused irritation in Canada. The couple were fined for traveling and lying to get vaccinated against covid-19 at the expense of members of an indigenous community near the Alaskan border. However, the sanction may be increased as a result of the wave of outrage.
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As the Yukon News, the Bakers traveled from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Whitehorse (capital of the Yukon territory) on January 20. Two days later, they paid for a charter flight to land 540 kilometers later, at Beaver Creek, a community of a hundred people, mostly of native origin. Justin Trudeau’s Government has committed itself to reserve certain quantities of vaccine – among the first batches received – for indigenous populations located in remote areas. This was the case in Beaver Creek, where a mobile clinic began to administer the antigen developed by Moderna on January 18.
Rodney and Ekaterina Baker received the shots claiming they were employed at a motel in the area. They showed health workers identification documents for the medical insurance of the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, stating that they would live for a short time in the Yukon. “People who live and work in the territory do not need a Yukon identification to be vaccinated; the Government had announced that medical insurance identification documents from other jurisdictions would be accepted if these people are resident in the territory, ”the newspaper said.
The health personnel, already with some doubts, were surprised when the couple asked to be taken to the small airport of the community. They called the motel and received confirmation that they were not part of the staff, so they decided to contact the authorities, who visited the address that the Bakers had indicated as the place where they would pass the mandatory quarantine. As they did not get an answer, they went to the airport.
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The millionaire and the actress were preparing to take a flight back to Vancouver, where they reside. Each was fined 1,150 Canadian dollars (about 4,918 reais) for violating two provisions of the civil emergency measures law: failure to comply with the 14-day mandatory confinement and failure to comply with a signed statement. The regulations indicate that these actions can lead to six months in prison. Angela Demit, head of the White River Indian Reservation, said in a statement: “We are very concerned about the actions of individuals who endanger our elderly and our most vulnerable people.” Demit added that his reservation considers the sanctions imposed to be very light and asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to open an investigation.
Kluane Adamek, leader of the Yukon First Nations Assembly, said that communities in that territory should know that “these actions will not be tolerated and that the authorities must impose stricter restrictions”. For his part, British Columbia health officer Bonnie Henry criticized those who skipped the line to get the vaccine, specifically commenting on the case of the Bakers. “They should be ashamed of themselves. They put a community at risk thinking about their own benefit and that is amazing to me, ”he said.
Rodney Baker resigned on Monday as CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, a company that has racecourses and casinos in various parts of Canada. The country has more than 774,000 cases of covid-19. About 870,000 Canadians have already received the first dose of the vaccine. It is not known when the Bakers could receive the second injection.
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