Jack Smith, 18, Robbie Rhodes, 18, Luke Fletcher, 22, Michael Smith, 43, and Christopher Lafayette, 62, had arrived on the island to complete two days’ work on a railway when they went into the supermarket to get food.
However, they didn’t realise that the Isle of Man, while a Crown dependency, is not in the UK and has its own coronavirus laws, including 14 days of mandatory self-isolation for anyone arriving from the mainland.
A resident who spotted them wearing masks in Tesco then reported them to the police, and they were arrested at their hotel. The witness suspected they were from the mainland as wearing a face covering is not a legal requirement inside shops on the Isle of Man.
Helen Smith, wife of Michael and mum of teenager Jack, said the pair told her they’d been put in handcuffs and taken to the station after being ‘mob-handed’ at their hotel.
She said: ‘They’ve been treated like serious criminals when the sensible thing was to have a word in their ear.
‘They only wanted to get some sandwiches for their lunch the next day. What were they meant to do otherwise? Starve?’
The men, who had travelled to Douglas by ferry from Heysham, Lancashire, appeared in court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to breaking coronavirus restrictions under the island’s Emergency Powers Act.
The prosecution said the welders had been advised by a supervisor not to go into the supermarket.
But their defence team stated that they had left their exemption certificates on the dashboard of their vehicles, and had failed to read them properly.
They were sentenced to 14 days in jail, but are expected to be released after tomorrow after seven days.
They also expected to be banned from returning to the Isle of Man after they’re escorted to the UK.
Lisa Fletcher, 50, mum Luke, told the Mirror her son had always followed coronavirus rules in the UK and made sure to take his mask when travelling for work. She added: ‘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.’
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