Former Love Island star Zara Holland has narrowly avoided time in jail in Barbados, after being accused of breaking coronavirus laws on the Caribbean island. She has been fined almost £4,500 instead - although the penalty could have been as much as £18,000.
Zara, 26, took a trip to Barbados with her boyfriend, Elliott Love over the Christmas period, flying out on Sunday 27 December. According to the country's coronavirus rules, visitors must remain in quarantine in their accommodation for the first few days of their visit, only being cleared after taking two mandatory tests. However, when Elliott tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to Barbados, the pair removed the red wristbands that indicated they had not been cleared from quarantine, and tried to leave the country instead of isolating in their hotel.
Zara herself tested negative for the virus, but the couple were arrested at Grantley Adams International Airport when they attempted to book a flight back to the United Kingdom. Elliott is currently being held in a medical quarantine facility on the island, according to reports, while Zara was sent back to her hotel (following two negative COVID tests) to await her court hearing.
According to news website Barbados Today, the reality star attended the District “D” Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning local time (6 January). At the hearing, she pleaded guilty to breaching COVID-19 Directive No.4 by leaving Sugar Bay Hotel pending the results of her test without a reasonable explanation.
Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes issued her with a fine of $12,000 (£4,417) for the breach, and ordered her to pay the penalty within seven days. If she misses this deadline, Zara will have to spend the next nine months in prison.
The former Love Island star's lawyer, Andrew Pilgrim QC, said Zara Holland accepts that her efforts to leave the country illegally were "foolish," and added that she accepts "full responsibility" for her actions. It is not known what punishment her partner Elliott Love will receive when he is released from the medical facility in which he is quarantining, but arguably it could be more serious considering he knowingly left his hotel while infectious with COVID-19.
Prior to her court hearing, Former Miss Great Britain Zara released a statement in which she apologised to both the government and the people of Barbados, and called the incident a "massive mix-up and misunderstanding".
The statement read:
"I firstly want to apologise to the entire country of Barbados for what has been a massive mix up and misunderstanding during my most recent stay.
"I am currently working with the local authorities to rectify any issues on my part and will issue an update and full statement which I think is the only right thing to do to the Government and citizens of Barbados.
"I have been a guest of this lovely island in excess of 20 years and would never do anything to jeopardise an entire nation that I have nothing but love and respect for and which has treated me as a family."
Zara, who owns a fashion boutique with her mum in Yorkshire, hasn't posted anything in regards to the incident on her Instagram account at the time of writing.
So far throughout the pandemic, Barbados has had just 743 cases of coronavirus, with just seven deaths.
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