Two YouTubers are facing deportation from Bali after they made a prank video that depicted one of them breaking local mask laws.
Josh Paler Lin and Leia Se have reportedly had their passports seized by local government and risk being forced to leave Indonesia as a result of the video.
In the clip, Se attempts to enter a grocery store, only to be turned away because she isn’t wearing a face mask. Lin then paints a fake mask on her face and she is able to go into the shop.
The video, which was posted on April 22, went viral. Lin has 3.4 million subscribers on YouTube.
Indonesia has been strictly enforcing its mask mandates. Police are allowed to issue fines on the first offense and deport foreigners on the second offense.
Though this was Lin’s and Se’s first known offense, the hubbub surrounding the video drew so much attention that Balinese authorities seized both of their passports. Lin is reportedly from Taiwan but lives in the United States, while Se (who goes by the name Lisha online) is a Russian citizen, according to a police statement.
“They will be examined together with Immigration to take the decision on whether or not to deport them,” I Putu Surya Dharma, a spokesman from the regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in Bali, confirmed to local media.
Lin has since removed the video from his YouTube channel. On April 24, he uploaded a video on his Instagram where he, Se and their attorney apologize for the stunt. The video is subtitled in English and Indonesian.
“The intention to make this video was not at all to disrespect or invite everyone to not wear mask,” Lin says. “I make this video to entertain people because I am a content creator and it is my job to entertain people.” Later, he adds: “we promise not to do it again.” This time, they are both fully masked.
Meanwhile, some police officers seem to have taken a more creative approach to punishing those caught breaking the law: an Australian news channel reported that two tourists were ordered to do push-ups as punishment for mask slacking.
Authorities confirmed to the channel that they had issued 8,864 fines or tickets for mask non-compliance in Bali in a single week. The island is hugely popular with foreign tourists and many chose to ride out the pandemic there instead of return to their native countries.
Indonesia has had 1,651,794 diagnosed cases of the virus and about 45,000 deaths. Bali, which relies heavily on tourism, had hoped to begin allowing foreign visitors by September 2020, but the ongoing virus situation has so far left the island without a firm reopening plan.