At least six Canadians face criminal charges after alleged incidents of coughing and licking

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A 20-year-old from Taber, Alberta was charged with mischief Wednesday after allegedly participating in a social media farce that involved licking products from a store for an online video.

Justin Tang / The Canadian Press

At least half a dozen Canadians have been charged in the coronavirus pandemic with behavior that police believe poses a direct risk of the virus spreading.

A 20-year-old from Taber, Alberta was charged with mischief Wednesday after allegedly participating in a social media farce that involved licking products from a store for an online video.

Police said the suspect entered the store with a small group and was spotted by a witness trying to lick products from the store. As a result, the store had to remove certain items from their shelves and disinfect the area. Police identified the suspect using the group’s license plate number. They believe that the motive was “apparently to create a TikTok video to participate in what some people call the” Covid Challenge “.”

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In a Facebook article, Taber police called the farce “a serious violation of good citizenship.”

“A reliable and clean food supply is one of our greatest needs right now. It is unacceptable to waste cleaning supplies and food from our shelves during this pandemic, “said Chef Graham Abela. “We will investigate and, if necessary, lay charges to the fullest extent permitted by law to limit this type of prank. “

Police have also raised concerns about people who deliberately coughed against police during the pandemic, and at least five Canadians have now been charged with assault cough.

A 24-year-old man from Coquitlam, British Columbia, was charged with assaulting a peace officer after spitting on police after he was arrested for break and enter on April 6. The police asked the man if he was sick as part of standard screening procedures, and he said yes before spitting them out.

A 48-year-old man in Wetaskiwin, Alberta faces a similar charge after allegedly coughing against an officer on April 5. The man – who was arrested for violating court conditions – told the police that he had the virus, and “intentionally coughed in the face of an officer and again escorted to the car from police. The man intentionally coughed into the face of another officer when he was treated at the detachment. “

Three days earlier, a 27-year-old man from Lethbridge, Alberta, was charged with assaulting a peace officer after he coughed in the face of a police officer during an arrest. Police said the man told them he had been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and hoped they would be infected.

Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis said threats to spread COVID-19 – whether or not the person is actually affected – are “very, very serious”.

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A challenge for first responders, he said, is that they deal with people, often, whom they know very little, in uncontrolled and tense environments. These concerns are amplified during a pandemic.

“Our members are already operating with an increased sense of anxiety,” said Mr. Stamatakis. “Not only anxiety for themselves in terms of being exposed and potentially infected, but also because of the potential risks to their families. “

John Struthers, President of the Criminal Lawyers ’Association, has also warned people that, especially in these unique pandemic circumstances, this is potentially a” very serious offense “.

“The person’s intention is also important,” he said. “If they are positive for COVID-19 and they are aware of it, then the intention is very serious. It could involve causing serious bodily harm or even death. “

The police are not the only ones at risk. In Edmonton, a 38-year-old man was charged with assault on April 5, after coughing against a bus driver and then public transit officials, who responded to end the argument. The man claimed to have tested positive for COVID-19.

And in late March, two New Brunswick men were charged on March 26 after allegedly deliberately coughing neighbors in a rooming house. The two recently traveled to the Dominican Republic and neighbors have complained that they are not isolating themselves properly. Police said the men responded by coughing against the neighbors and that they had both been charged with assault.

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