About a quarter of the travellers caught partying on a Sunwing flight from Montreal to Cancun late last month have found their way back to Canada, according to Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
Duclos said 27 of the 130 passengers on the Dec. 30 flight, who had been stranded in Cancun after Sunwing cancelled their return flight and several other airlines said they would ban them, were able to return to Canada on four different flights Wednesday.
Images and videos from the flight showed passengers ignoring public health measures, jumping and dancing in the aisle, vaping and openly passing around a bottle of hard liquor on the plane. In one video, a person was seen crowd-surfing while the plane was in the air.
Federal, provincial officials co-operating: Duclos
At a news conference Friday, Duclos said the passengers were stopped by border service agents upon arrival and were required to undergo COVID-19 testing.
Authorities also verified their vaccination information, the validity of their pre-arrival PCR tests and inquired about their quarantine plans, he said.
The health minister also said Quebec provincial police had reached out to Canada’s Public Health Agency for the travellers’ contact information.
He said the federal government had sent files about the travellers to Quebec’s public prosecutions office, the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales du Québec (DPCP).
On Friday evening, however, spokesperson Audrey Roy-Cloutier sent out a tweet saying the DPCP hadn’t yet received any files relating to the events that took place on the Dec. 30 Sunwing flight.
En lien avec les événements rapportés qui seraient survenus lors d’un vol de Sunwing le 30 décembre dernier, le DPCP tient à préciser qu’il n’a encore reçu aucun dossier, et ce tant en matière criminelle que pénale.
In a followup, Roy-Cloutier said when the DPCP does receive passenger files and information from the federal authorities who are investigating, the evidence will be analyzed to see if it warrants prosecution.
Investigations may result in fines, jail time
The federal government released a statement Tuesday saying the departments of Transport, Public Safety and Health have all launched investigations into the incident.
There could be fines of up to $5,000 from Transport Canada for each offence on board, according to the statement.
Additional fines and even jail time could follow if passengers were found to be endangering others, or if they provide falsified information upon their return to Canada.
At least one of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19 after the flight to Mexico.
Rebecca St-Pierre, 19, confirmed to The Canadian Press that she tested positive on Wednesday and is currently isolating in Tulum, south of Cancun.