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Warning for Bali tourists as crackdown on expats flouting social distancing sees yoga guru deported

Travellers who flout social distancing rules could be deported from Bali on future holidays as the Indonesia government gets tough on unruly tourists.

Holidaymakers are being warned their island escapes may never be the same after officials deported an expat yoga guru who was found to break lockdown rules.

Shocking pictures have emerged in recent weeks of expats and tourists sinking beers and ignoring coronavirus rules, even attending huge gatherings. 

Instructor Wissam Barakeh, 45 was responsible for holding a yoga retreat in Bali’s cultural hub Ubud last week, which sparked outrage across the island.

More than 100 tourists were photographed breaching COVID-19 protocols at the illegal event.

Yoga instructor Wissam Barakeh (pictured) is seen being led away by immigration officers after breaching coronavirus rules in Bali 

More than 100 western foreigners breached social distancing rules at mass gathering held at The House of Om retreat in Bali last week (pictured)

More than 100 western foreigners breached social distancing rules at mass gathering held at The House of Om retreat in Bali last week (pictured)

He was previously forced to make an apology after images of the The House of Om event showed tourists crammed into a tiny space with no face masks in sight.  

Barakeh has since been arrested, and is being held at an immigration centre until his deportation flights to his home country of Syria are arranged.

Indonesia’s COVID-19 protocols restrict gatherings to no more than 25 people, and they are required to adhere to social distancing and wear masks. 

The head of Bali’s justice and legal office Jamaruli Manihuru said the instructor forged ahead with his plans despite knowing the crowd would exceed the allowed number of guests.

The instructor Wissam Barakeh (pictured), 45 was responsible for holding a yoga retreat in Bali's cultural hub Ubud last week - with warnings issued to tourists breaking COVID-19 rules

The instructor Wissam Barakeh (pictured), 45 was responsible for holding a yoga retreat in Bali’s cultural hub Ubud last week – with warnings issued to tourists breaking COVID-19 rules

‘(He) didn’t try to cancel the event even after the number of participants exceeded what’s allowed by the government,’ said Jamaruli Manihuruk.

‘Holding this during the pandemic is dangerous.’

The island’s tourism heavy economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with the volume of flights plummeting to unprecedented levels.

More than 1,214 coronavirus cases have been recorded on the popular Indonesian island in the last three months, including 11 deaths. 

Holidaymakers are being warned their island escapes may never be the same after shocking pictures emerged of a yoga guru being deported (pictured, the House of Om in Bali)

Holidaymakers are being warned their island escapes may never be the same after shocking pictures emerged of a yoga guru being deported (pictured, the House of Om in Bali)

The retreat’s founder was forced to issue a public apology for its ‘irresponsible actions’ after photos from the event showed attendees crammed into a treetop room sitting closely together and no face masks in sight. 

The House of Om had posted an open invitation on social media for a yogic chanting evening and ‘celebration of bliss’ last Thursday, which doubled as a fundraiser for the local village. 

Photos from the mass gathering at the retreat in Ubad sparked widespread backlash online.

Most of the attendees pictured appear to be Western foreigners.

‘From the photos. the number of people infected COVID-19 in Bali is increasing,’ Indonesian screenwriter Jenny Jusuf tweeted.

She told Triple J Hack: ‘Most of these foreigners are living in Bali on emergency stay permits from the Indonesian Government, yet they act like they own the island.

Other locals were just as outraged.

‘It’s crazy, it’s still required to wear masks and keep the distance,’ one woman commented.

House of Om founder Wissam Barakeh originally denied to Kumparan and to Hack the event was held, and claimed the photos were from last December, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photos show event attendees sitting closely together and not wearing face masks (pictured) despite strict social distancing rules in Bali

Photos show event attendees sitting closely together and not wearing face masks (pictured) despite strict social distancing rules in Bali

However he later backtracked on those claims to take full responsibility for last week’s event and apologised to the whole Balinese community.

‘It was a big and absurd mistake that happened in a difficult time like now,’ he wrote on the House of Om’s Instagram on Monday.

‘We held an event on June 18, aiming to raise funds so that we can help as much as possible the people who need help.’

‘I apologise for the amount because it poses a serious risk for our actions. We apologise to the entire Balinese community for our irresponsible actions. 

Ms Jusuf has since described Mr Barakeh’s apology as ‘half-hearted’.

‘I hope that the Bali government will firmly act on these types of foreigners. If everything ends with just a mere apology, they will not learn their lesson,’ she wrote.

The House of Om founder originally claimed the photos were from last December before he backtracked on the claims and apologised for the June 18 event (pictured)

The House of Om founder originally claimed the photos were from last December before he backtracked on the claims and apologised for the June 18 event (pictured)

The event attended by more than 100 people doubled as a fundraiser for the local village

The event attended by more than 100 people doubled as a fundraiser for the local village

It’s unclear whether the retreat will be sanctioned over the mass gathering.

‘I have done my part. now it’s up to the local government,’ Ms Jusuf wrote. 

The House of Om opened in Bali in 2017.

‘The community is a resort and retreat center, co-living & co-working place, holistic school & charity foundation; it provides free workshops and events, affordable teacher trainings, budget communal accommodation, and employment opportunity,’ it states on its website.

The mass gathering was held at The House of Om in Bali (pictured) during the island's coronavirus lockdown

The mass gathering was held at The House of Om in Bali (pictured) during the island’s coronavirus lockdown

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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