FIVE welders have been jailed for breaking coronavirus rules on the Isle of Man by buying lunch in Tesco.
The five men – all welders from Doncaster, South Yorkshire – wore face masks when they entered the supermarket after getting off the morning ferry in Douglas.
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The welders were arrested for breaking coronavirus rules on the Isle of Man that state key workers from the mainland must not leave their accommodation unless they are at work.
The group – aged between 18 and 62 – had booked a hotel for two days' work on a railway.
Cops turned up at the hotel just as the men arrived, having been tipped off by an island resident.
The tipster believed the men were not local as they wore masks inside the Tesco – a measure not required by law on the island. The Isle of Man is a UK crown dependency but it sets its own laws.
The men were led away in handcuffs before being jailed for 14 days.
Devastated wife and mother Helen Smith, 38, has blasted the decision to jail her husband Michael, 43, and son Jack, 18.
She told the Mirror: "They've been treated like serious criminals when the sensible thing was to have a word in their ear.
"It makes me so angry to think they're in jail yet politicians break rules and get away with it."
Helen said her husband called her on Tuesday to say they had arrived on the island safely, but then she didn't hear from him again until Friday, when he was behind bars.
Lisa Fletcher's son Luke, 22, was also arrested as part of the group.
She said the workers would not have deliberately broken the law.
Isle of Man coronavirus laws for travellers
Access to the Isle of Man is tightly restricted for non-residents.
There are a small number of categories that allow for entry to the island, but only with an Exemption Certificate. This is a limited group of people who are necessary to the Island’s critical national infrastructure or for the preservation of human life.
As a non-resident, it is not possible to enter the Isle of Man without a certificate.
Failure to comply with this rule is a criminal offence on the Isle of Man.
Travellers also have to undergo 14 days of mandatory self-isolation and you must not leave your accommodation during this period.
There is no legal requirement for people to wear face masks on the island.
Source: Isle of Man government
"The rules are different from one place to the next. Even the politicians don’t know them. But you'd never expect in a million years that going to Tesco to buy food would land you in jail," she said.
All five welders – Jack Smith, 18, Robbie Rhodes, 18, Christopher Lafayette, 62, Michael Smith, 43, and Luke Fletcher, 22 – pleaded guilty to failing to comply with Covid-19 restrictions under the Isle of Man's Emergency Powers Act.
The prosecution said a supervisor who had travelled with the man had told them not to enter the Tesco.
The group's defence said they had left their exemption certificates on the dashboards of their cars and had not read them properly.
Magistrate chairman Belinda Pilling said the men had "closed their eyes" to the law and sentenced them to 14 days in prison.
Luke Fletcher's mum Lisa said her son had always followed Covid-19 rules.
She said: "Before he went he downloaded the test and trace app on his phone. We were saying to him ‘make sure you wear your face mask’.
“He’s done exactly what we said. We thought what we were telling him was right but it turns out it’s wrong.”
The men are expected to complete half of their sentence and will return to Britain tomorrow. They are also expected to be banned from returning to the Isle of Man.
The men's firm Haigh Rail Ltd refused to comment on the incident.
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