Thursday 18 August 2022

Couple arrested at airport after leaving quarantine seek €50,000 damages

Schiphol airport, where Carolina Pimenta and Andres Sanz were arrested. Photo: Brandon Hartley

A couple who were arrested at Schiphol airport after they walked out of a quarantine hotel are demanding €50,000 in damages for being deprived of their freedom.

Carolina Pimenta, 28, and her partner Andres Sanz, 30, spent two days in an isolation unit after they were detained while trying to board a plane to Barcelona, where they live.

They were among 600 passengers who were ordered to quarantine after flying in from Cape Town and Johannesburg on November 26, the day that strict travel rules were imposed following the discovery of the Omicron variant in South Africa.

Lawyer Bart Maes told the Volkskrant that he would also be asking the public prosecutor’s office to bring charges against the mayor of Haarlemmermeer, Marianne Schuurmans, who issued the quarantine order on the basis that the couple were a danger to public health.

‘Carolina and Andrés were illegally deprived of their freedom and detained for days in an isolation room at the UMC Groningen in Haren, in squalid conditions,’ Maes said.

‘Among other things we are contesting the claim that there was a serious danger to public health, which has never been substantiated.’

Pimenta, 28 and Sanz, 30, were taken to a quarantine hotel in Badhoevedorp after she tested positive for coronavirus at Schiphol, but deny they fled illegally. Pimenta, who works as a biomedical researcher, claims the result was a false positive.

She said they were allowed to leave the hotel after they both produced negative self-tests. A PCR test Pimenta took three days after landing was also negative, while Sanz never tested positive for the virus.

‘We were treated like dogs in the Netherlands,’ she said. ‘After a lovely stay in South Africa we landed in a nightmare that lasted more than five days. It’s high time somebody said: sorry, we were wrong.’

Schiphol airport authorities, Dutch national airline KLM and Kennemerland regional health board all apologised for the way passengers on the two flights were treated. They were kept on board for hours without food or water after landing and complained of poor information and hygiene in the room where they had to wait to be tested.

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