Log In

Reset Password

Family who refused quarantine will face charges in court

First Prev 1 2 3 Next Last
Resistance: Sophia Cannonier, second right, and Michael Watson pose with their children at home.
Police kept watch last night at the Devonshire home of a family who fell afoul of Covid-19 quarantine orders (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Two parents who defied the Government’s mandatory quarantine on unvaccinated travellers flying into Bermuda will be charged in court, the Ministry of Health announced last night.

Sophia Cannonier, at home with her husband Michael Watson, said the two might still face arrest.

“You never know,” Ms Cannonier said. “We’ve been assured nobody is going to try anything. But we don’t know.

“The Government probably doesn’t like what I’m doing, so is this about health or politics?”

In a joint statement with police, the ministry said the couple had arrived at the airport yesterday with their two children in breach of quarantine orders against Covid-19.

The family was said to have lacked an approved travel authorisation, and presented documents of possessing antibodies against the virus rather than proof of vaccination.

A spokeswoman said the antibody documents were not recognised by Bermuda authorities.

She added: “As such, the Cannonier/Watson family is considered unvaccinated, and according to the legislation, must go into a quarantine hotel, which they refused to do.”

The family, who went to their home in Devonshire instead of mandatory 14-day quarantine, had thus refused to comply with the directions of a health officer, the statement said.

“It is expected that this matter will go before the courts and the Bermuda Police Service, and the Ministry of Health will not comment further on the specifics of this case.”

Earlier yesterday a pressure group opposing the island’s strict regulations against Covid-19 said the family had been threatened with arrest.

The Bermuda Freedom Alliance said that just before 4am yesterday, police and the Department of Health came to an agreement with “the legal representative for the Cannonier Watson family to take a recess and resume conversations about how best to proceed”.

The group, which has led demonstrations against the quarantines, said health officials arrived at the Cannonier Watson house “unannounced with the support of 13 police officers, a number that grew considerably”.

It was claimed that an attempt was made to arrest the family, including young children who were in bed after a day’s travel.

The group said supporters of the family only left the scene after the agreement was reached, with an “assurance” by the Deputy Commissioner of Police that there would be no further effort to enter the home or detain the family.

The parents were described as movement and holistic health practitioners who maintain a healthy family.

Ms Cannonier, who spoke at the protest, was a professional ballerina who joined Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem and performed around the world, including before the Queen. She was Bermuda’s first pilates instructor and is an advocate for home births.

Mr Watson is co-owner with Ms Cannonier of Padma, which also trades as Lotus Bermuda, and is a well known yoga and pilates instructor.

Marc Daniels, the lawyer representing the family, said this afternoon that he could not comment as he was awaiting instruction.

Ms Cannonier said Mr Daniels, a family friend, had been in talks with the Department of Public Prosecutions about their case.

The family returned from attending the graduation ceremonies in Britain with their 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter.

“We were travelling to support our children, who have been away from us since age 11,” Ms Cannonier told The Royal Gazette.

All four of the family were infected with the coronavirus last Christmas after going to the UK, and Ms Cannonier said that after getting tested were found in April to have “robust antibodies” protecting them against the virus.

They were tested again in July.

But Ms Cannonier said the Government had imposed rules without “understanding anything about the immunity received by having Covid”.

According to the Government’s website, “the natural immune response after a mild case appears to be short lived, and much shorter than what is expected from the vaccine”.

Describing herself a supporter of vaccines who researched before getting a shot, Ms Cannonier said she had medical conditions that made the jab against Covid-19 unsuitable.

Ms Cannonier said the family had tested negative ahead of flying home, but did not intend to go into mandatory quarantine, which she said had left their children with anxiety after they were held last year in the Fairmont Southampton Princess.

“Getting off the flight, we said 'we’re not doing this; we’re healthy’,” she said. The family produced documents showing their antibody status.

Police at the airport said they could not be arrested.

She added: “At 11.30pm, the Swat team arrived as if it was a murder, and I just politely said we were not going. Make yourself comfortable out there; we’re not leaving. The children were asleep.”

Ms Cannonier said she did not see the need for quarantining at all, but did not want to be prosecuted.

“I don’t want them to bash down the door. How much therapy would our children need if they saw their parents cuffed and taken off to a hotel?”

She said up to 20 officers came to the home on Second Avenue last night, while supporters held a vigil outside.

Ms Cannonier said the family’s refusal to comply was “not just about antibodies – it’s the principle of the thing”.

“People can get off the plane, be fully immunised, test positive, and still be able to quarantine at home. Why?”

Sophia Cannonier, centre, is shown at the protest against government’s Covid-19 restrictions last month (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

⋅ To read the Bermuda Freedom Alliance statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published July 13, 2021 at 2:59 pm (Updated July 13, 2021 at 8:07 pm)

Family who refused quarantine will face charges in court

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon