Scroll through Instagram, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic simply doesn't exist anymore. Despite the fact the situation with Covid-19 is getting worse and worse - and it looks like a third lockdown is looming for us stuck in the UK - influencers have been holidaying and living it up like 2020 never happened. In fact, it seems like the entire cast of the past few seasons of Love Island have, at some point, been in Dubai.
Just some of the Islanders snapped in the UAE include Chris Taylor and Maura Higgins, Gabby Allen, Amber Gill, Malin Andersson, Anton Danyluk, Ellie Brown and Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury. The list goes on. It's like the most of the previous contestants decided to host the biggest ever reunion! In Dubai! In the middle of a bloody pandemic!
There has, obviously, been backlash. People aren't best pleased, for obvious reasons.
Jedward - yes, X Factor's favourite novelty act - turned their 2020 wrath to the reality stars last month, tweeting what most people have been thinking (in a brilliantly sarcastic tone): 'Love Islanders do more travelling around the world in a pandemic than Santa Claus but super happy they are also getting home for that Christmas Content.' (They added in another tweet: 'Info for Influencers promoting Dubai! It has Coronavirus but doesn’t have rights for LGBTQ+ so please stop promoting countries where it’s criminal to kiss the one you love!')
Molly-Mae addressed the criticism she has been receiving in her DMs, posting an Instagram story attempting to explain her and Tommy's recent back-to-back getaways in Dubai and the Maldives. Writing on Instagram, she said: ' In response to the messages I'm already getting about us being away throughout this time... Please understand that Tommy and I left the UK from Cheshire which was in Tier 2 at the time. We didn't break any rules coming away. If we knew these rules were going to be put in place then obviously we would have never left the UK. The minute we arrive home we will be following government guidelines.' Amber posted an Instagram story too, saying her flights were booked in advance and that she was allowed to travel for work, adding that she 'didn't even know Tier 4 was a thing'.
Gabby has also addressed the controversy, saying her and her boyfriend Brandon have decided to stay in Dubai 'for the foreseeable' after travelling out on December 7 - because his business is based there. She further explained that they travelled with negative Covid tests, also writing: 'I wanted to come on here and acknowledge this to my followers as it was a difficult decision for me. I really hope you can understand that it was an opportunity I had to take.'
But, regardless of the fact most of the reality stars travelled before even more tiers were introduced, it still doesn't sit right. Of course, influencers are followed because their lives are aspirational and out-of-the-ordinary (but, because they're normal people, they're even more successful because they're #relatable). But now photos from expensive holidays we can only dream of don't feel aspirational. It feels more like a slap in the face when most of us are stuck at home, and have had our one trip a year cancelled (probably more than once).
Plus, people aren't annoyed just because they're jealous at home. It's dangerous. The pandemic isn't getting any better - and while we have the vaccine, there's no certainty about when the new lockdown is going to end. Many countries banned travel to the UK following news of the new strain. In fairness, most people had jetted off before that news - but still, surely it still wasn't the best idea to travel around the world when we were still very much in the midst of a global pandemic? They might be reality stars - but some of them certainly need a reality check.
Hannah Elizabeth and Jonathan Clark - SPLIT
Remember when they, like, got engaged on the show? That one didn't quite last...
READ MORE: Why Love Island 2019 Was The Best Series