While the South Tyneside, England, authorities installed hand sanitiser stations across the city to protect people amid COVID-19 outbreak, several vandals have reportedly been smashing the dispensers in order 'to drink the alcohol inside'. According to an international media outlet, witnesses have claimed that they have seen people transferring sanitiser into bottles and getting drunk. One person reportedly claimed that she saw three men fill milkshake bottles with sanitiser and drink it in Hebburn.
South Tyneside councillor Pat Hay even took to Facebook to address the problem. He informed that seven out of the 14 dispensers had to be removed due to the damage. Hay’s post even triggered a series of comments in which netizens reported of similar incidents elsewhere.
While one internet user wrote called it ‘disgraceful’, others suggested, “It would have made more sense to provide every shop with one, rather than having them in the street where we all knew they would be vandalised”. One user called it ‘Shocking behaviour’ and another said, “There are so many mindless, brainless people”.
While speaking to an international media outlet, a spokesperson for South Tyneside Council further addressed the issue and said that the authorities were aware of the incidents involving hand sanitizer and they even urge citizens to be more responsible with them. While calling it ‘inappropriate’, the spokesperson said that vandalism of the dispensers is ‘unacceptable’. He further also added that the hand sanitiser stations have been installed for the benefit of the whole community and in line with the Government guidance around social distancing and hand hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The company contracted with disposing of thousands of the damaged sanitiser containers, reportedly also called such vandalism ‘mindless idiocy’. The Director of the company, Mark Hall, reportedly said that instances of such vandalism is ‘pretty much everywhere’. He urged people to not drink the sanitisers as it contains chemicals too.