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COVID-19: German man enforces distancing with pepper spray

October 19, 2020

An elderly man felt several people came too close to him and could spread the virus, so he took matters into his own hands. Health experts have recommended people keep their distance in order to slow the virus' spread.

A sign requesting social distancing
Image: Getty Images/S. Gallup

German police said Monday that a 71-year-old man took social distancing to a new extreme over the weekend, by pepper-spraying people who he felt got too close.

Police in the western city of Aachen tweeted that there was an "unusual use" of the police force, as the man "first sprayed a group of joggers and then two cyclists."

According to a statement from the local police, the cyclists were a couple who were able to get off of their bikes and call police without causing an accident. A patrolman soon approached the suspected perpetrator, who said he knew no other way to protect himself to keep others at a "corona distance."

Criminal proceedings were launched against the 71-year-old for causing dangerous bodily harm and interference with road traffic.

Police were still looking for the joggers to report what they saw to police.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended people keep at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) distance from others and wear a mask to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but in several places authorities have recommended people separate by at least 1.5 meters. The coronavirus has been seen to hit elderly people and those with risk factors such as weakened immune systems or high blood pressure especially hard.

Read more: The immune system's fight against the coronavirus

kbd/shs (dpa)