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Police Are Using Drones to Yell at People for Being Outside

Popular Mechanics logo Popular Mechanics 18/3/2020 Courtney Linder
a close up of a basketball game: Some people still aren't listening. © Bruce Bennett - Getty Images Some people still aren't listening.
  • Despite public health officials recommending social distancing policies and governments outright banning large events and shuttering businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19, some people still aren't listening.
  • To keep people indoors, Spanish authorities are using drones, mounted with microphones, to scold people who aren't self-quarantining.
  • On Saturday evening, Spain officially placed its citizens on lockdown.

There's a new brand of finger-wagging all over social media in light of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic: public shaming for being in public spaces. To the ire of global citizens following public health officials' advice to stay inside, some people are still going about their normal lives as if thousands of people haven't already died.

In a bid to keep these people inside, and to prevent exponential spreading of the virus, Spanish authorities are using speaker-mounted drones to find and promptly yell at people still congregating in the streets.

With Spanish citizens on lockdown since Saturday, this is the only meaningful way to prevent more people from contracting COVID-19. The idea of "flattening the curve" proves hospitals will quickly exceed capacity–and more people will die—if we don't band together and avoid public spaces.

Back in January, the state-owned newspaper Global Times posted a video of a woman who appeared to be a police officer speaking into a walkie-talkie that broadcasted instructions urging Chinese citizens to wear face masks and stay home. Some speculation surrounding the video pointed to an influencer who may have posted the video. It's still unclear if China really did use drones to enforce quarantine measures.

A video posted to the BBC's Twitter account does, however, show drones being used for this purpose in Spain. Still, it's more than doubtful that police would ever do this in the U.S. For one thing, state measures have been dictating the severity of quarantines, creating a patchwork of rules. And back in January, the U.S. Department of the Interior signed a no-fly order to officially ground all of its drones due to cybersecurity concerns with drones manufactured in China or made from Chinese parts.

Instead of pushing your luck and waiting for robo-choppers to come scold you, do the right thing and stay inside.

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