A New Zealand man who drunkenly filmed himself coughing on people at a supermarket has been charged with endangering life

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People wearing face masks, push shopping cart with their grocery items in Christchurch on April 1.

Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto / Getty

  • A New Zealand man was charged with endangering life after filming himself sneezing and coughing all through a supermarket in Christchurch, New Zealand. The charges were later lowered to one count of offensive behavior.
  • The man later apologized for his video, which he posted to Facebook, saying: "It never should've happened, the alcohol had really taken effect and I have no sensor when I get this messy."
  • New Zealand has enhanced its social distancing measures amid the coronavirus outbreak. The country has reported 1,106 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1 death as of Monday local time. 
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A New Zealand man was arrested for filming himself coughing and sneezing on people in a supermarket as the country enforces strict social distancing measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.

A police spokesperson confirmed to stuff.co.nz that Raymond Gary Coombs, 38, was arrested on Saturday evening local time for the stunt. A spokesperson said he had been charged with "endangering life by criminal nuisance and obstruction of a medical officer of health."

Another police spokesperson told Stuff the man's actions were "abhorrent," even if they weren't done during a pandemic. 

New Zealand is currently on a nationwide lockdown and has reported 1,106 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1 death as of Monday local time. 

In the now-deleted Facebook video seen by stuff.co.nz, Coombs holds a camera close to his face as he roams around a Fresh Choice supermarket in Christchurch. Grinning to the camera, he coughs and sneezes on several shoppers before apologizing.

A spokesperson for Fresh Choice supermarket told stuff.co.nz: "The person in the video has since apologized and indicated it was a drunken prank, which is obviously not funny at all in these challenging times."

According to the New Zealand Herald, Coombs later apologized on Facebook, saying: "I'm sorry for this prank. It never should've happened, the alcohol had really taken effect and I have no sensor when I get this messy. There is nothing else that I can say but apologize to everybody, and assure you all it will not happen again."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that people who do not comply with lockdown measures, including Coombs, are "idiots."

On Monday, Coombs appeared in court via a video link, according to stuff.co.nz. His charges were amended to one count of offensive behavior, which has a maximum penalty of an NZ$1,000 fine ($589). 

Reports indicate that he had also been jailed before for a prank gone wrong. In 2009, he left dry ice bombs around Christchurch, which exploded and damaged a man's hearing resulting in him having to wear hearing aids.

Judge McMeeken who presided over Coombs' case said: "We are in a state of emergency, there is a lockdown. Many people in New Zealand are suffering. Your behavior would have added to that suffering. I am sure many people were scared and distressed when they saw what you did."

Coombs is set to be sentenced on May 19.

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