Two social media influencers currently located in Bali, Indonesia face deportation for breaking local Covid-19 safety rules after posting a video where one of them had a fake mask painted on.
Got past security with fake mask on
Leia Se, a Russian national who goes by the name "Lisha" online, first tried to enter a supermarket with no mask on.
Expectedly, she was turned away by security.
They went back to their car, where Josh Paler Lin, a U.S.-based Taiwan national, painted a 'mask' over her face.
They tried entering the grocery store next, and succeeded without getting caught, despite having interacted with a staffer who took their temperatures at the entrance.
They then filmed themselves walking through the store, and Lin said: "Did you notice like no one's actually looking at you?"
Se replied by saying: "Exactly, it looks so real."
Drew flak over their antics
Posted on Facebook on Apr. 16 as a "prank" video, the clip quickly went viral, and sparked a heated backlash from Indonesians, who didn't find the stunt too amusing.
They remarked that the two had deliberately flouted local rules governing public health by using a "prank" as an excuse, and expressed their anger by flooding their social media pages with comments asking them to leave Bali.
Their actions drew the attention of Balinese politician Niluh Djelantik, who posted a screenshot of the video on her Instagram page, and called for authorities to arrest and deport them.
The video has since been taken down from Lin's YouTube and Facebook pages, although it could still be found on the social media platforms as other users have re-uploaded the clip.
Following the backlash, their passports had been seized by local authorities, who were also considering the possibility of deporting them, local media Detikcom reported.
Bali implemented its mandatory mask rule in September last year.
Individuals caught not wearing masks outside their homes for the first time are now subject to a fine of IDR1 million (S$91.80). The fine was raised from IDR100,000 when many tourists continued to disregard the rules.
A second violation, however, might get them deported from Indonesia.
After withdrawing from social media for a couple of days, the duo broke their silence with a video posted on Lin's Instagram page.
Seen alongside their legal team, they apologised for the video. Lin said their intention in making the video was "not at all to disrespect or to invite everyone to not wear mask".
He continued to say that he made the video to "entertain people" as it's his job as "a content creator".
He added that he had not realised that what he did "could actually bring a lot of negative comment from the netizen", and that it raised "a lot of concerns".
He ended by saying he wants to "invite everyone in Indonesia and Bali" to always wear a mask for "our own safety and health, so we can help Bali gain its tourists again".
Bali accounts for half of the 10 high-risk areas for Covid-19 in Indonesia, which continues to record high numbers of new infections daily.
As of Wednesday, Apr. 29, 5,241 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, according to Tempo.co.
Influencers in Bali:
Top image adapted via Niluh Djelantik/Instagram & YouTube