Norfolk councillor dragged out of pool by Tenerife police after defying coronavirus restrictions
PUBLISHED: 13:37 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:01 25 March 2020
A Norfolk councillor was dragged out of a Tenerife swimming pool by police after refusing to obey coronavirus quarantine restrictions.
Joanne Rust, a Labour councillor at King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, was holidaying at the Paradise Park Hotel when she ignored pleas to exit the pool.
The 53-year-old, who was Labour’s candidate for the North-West Norfolk parliamentary seat in December, flew to the Canary Island with her husband Marcus on Sunday, March 15 - a day after Spain declared a state of emergency.
Hotel guests were initially permitted to continue using the facilities including swimming pools and restaurants, but could not leave the premises.
But the following day, as restrictions tightened and guests were told to remain in their rooms, Mrs Rust defied the quarantine and began swimming in one of the pools.
A video showing her swimming backstroke has been viewed on social media more than four million times.
Mrs Rust, who maintained there was more to the story than met the eye, said: “We contemplated not going in the first place, but we were still being permitted to travel.
“When we arrived there were still people using the gyms, bars, all the different facilities. We thought if this is what lockdown is, then we can hack it.
“On the Monday we were told we had to be in our rooms more often, but ours wasn’t big enough for us to be in there all the time. I asked for a bigger room but the hotel said it wasn’t possible.
“I thought I would go for one last swim. People were filming it from their sun loungers so they were not exactly in isolation.”
After refusing to exit, Mrs Rust was dragged from the pool, arrested and held overnight in a police cell before appearing in court the next day.
Other media outlets have reported she was charged with a public order offence of resistance and disobedience towards the Spanish authorities and released on bail, but Mrs Rust maintained she was released without charge.
“The police asked me why I didn’t get out of the pool, but it’s because they were hostile and aggressive and I was scared,” she added. “I bitterly regret getting in that pool but it was not a case of ‘I’m angry because I’ve hot been given an upgrade’, as many people have been saying.”