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Police were called to a Little Rock restaurant over the weekend after customers brawled over social distancing and coughing.

It happened Saturday at Saltgrass Steakhouse at 10 Anglers Way. A woman said she and her boyfriend were sitting at the bar when they told a man nearby he was sitting too close to them, according to a police report. They told the man to stay 6 feet away, in compliance with social distancing guidelines.

Witnesses said the man, identified as a 56-year-old DeRidder, Louisiana resident, instead moved closer to the couple, according to the report. A witness said the woman then coughed on the man. But the woman, a 42-year-old Little Rock resident, told police the man and his companions had actually coughed on her. She also told police the man from Louisiana and his companions had been using racial slurs.

Officers reviewed surveillance footage of the incident. At some point, the Louisiana man reached toward the Little Rock woman's boyfriend. Her boyfriend then hit the Louisiana man over the head with a bottle. Police said it became a "melee" afterward and it was difficult to tell what was happening.

Police made no arrests but told those involved that they could seek warrants for third-degree battery, according to the report.

Arkansas has allowed restaurants to reopen with limited guest capacity. There have been several reports of customers refusing to follow rules meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A restaurant in Pocahontas said last week that it had stopped dine-in service because customers refused to wear masks and behaved disrespectfully when employees told them masks were required. A restaurant in Benton stopped dine-in service last month over the same issue.

Police reports show the coronavirus pandemic has been linked to fights, vandalism and other unruliness in Little Rock.

This article originally ran on

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