The federal government says 27 of the approximately 130 passengers from a Sunwing plane to Mexico, who are now the subject of intense criticism for disobeying public health and aviation rules, faced interrogation upon their return to Canada this week.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos provided an update to reporters Friday about the situation, which is now being investigated by Transport Canada.
“They were all stopped and interrogated at the air border. They were then all tested. They were checked, with regards to whether they had obeyed and followed all the health regulations that they were supposed to follow throughout their trip,” he said.
That included proof of vaccination against COVID-19, a PCR test, and a quarantine plan.
The Quebec influencers were on their way to Mexico on a chartered plane and were set to return to Canada Jan. 5. Sunwing refused to fly the travellers back to Canada because they didn’t agree to the airlines terms and conditions.
“Unfortunately, the group did not accept all of the terms. As a result of our ongoing investigation and the group’s refusal to accept all terms of carriage, we have made the decision to cancel the return flight,” a statement read.
Since-deleted social media videos showed the group partying maskless, vaping and drinking aboard the plane, which prompted criticism from the prime minister and other political leaders.
“We know how hard people have worked to keep themselves safe, to limit their family gatherings at Christmas time, to wear masks, to get vaccinated, to do all the right things. Its a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.
The government also released a statement this week stating that the travellers will be held accountable for their behaviour.
“Transport Canada has been in contact with the airline concerning this flight. Should the department determine that non-compliance with Transport Canada regulations and requirements has occurred, fines of up to $5,000 per offence could be issued to passengers,” the statement said.
Air Canada and Air Transat also issued statements that they would be denying return flights.
Air Canada said Thursday afternoon that its so far blocked 19 people from flying because they were linked to the group, but that it can be difficult to screen them out.
Air Canada has not been provided with the Sunwing passenger manifest, making it difficult to prevent passengers from that flight boarding our aircraft, said an Air Canada spokesperson.
Duclos said in French that the group of 27 took four different flights home, but didn’t say with which airlines.
The organizer of the trip says he has significantly learned from the ordeal but is still upset that airlines wont fly the group home based on what he called presumptions about them.
I understand why many fellow citizens are upset about the current situation, James William Awad wrote in a statement posted on Blogspot on Thursday morning.
The 111 private club is a dream and a vision that I poured my heart and soul into creating. This was my first travel event. I have significantly learned, and I am still learning from this experience.