China adjusts law-enforcement and judiciary actions toward violations of COVID-19 prevention measures
Published: Jan 07, 2023 10:52 PM


Starting from January 8, people who violate COVID-19 prevention measures will not be convicted or punished for obstructing the control of an infectious disease based on current regulations, according to a notification jointly issued by judiciary and law-enforcement authorities, as well as other relevant departments on Saturday.

Those people who violate border health quarantine regulations will not face criminal punishment, the notice read. Detained individuals or defendants in custody for such violations according to the previous policy should be promptly released from detention in accordance with the law, and assets involved in the cases, including those being sealed, seized or frozen, also need to be lifted in a timely manner, said the notice released on Saturday.

The document came just ahead of the planned move on Sunday to downgrade the management of COVID-19 from Class A to Class B, and was jointly issued by five authorities — the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice and the General Administration of Customs.

Wang Hongwei, a professor at the Renmin University of China's School of Public Administration and Policy, told the Global Times on Saturday that "Following the downgrading management from Class A to Class B, the rules implemented for the public to prevent the spread of the virus should also be adjusted accordingly."

This is a clear signal to make all law-enforcement and judiciary departments and agencies responsible for cases linked to epidemic prevention and control to adjust to the new change and shape a legal environment with certainty and clear rules that could better help the country to realize recovery in the future, experts noted.

Wang said that the measures implemented for emergency management should align with actual need and situation, so stricter rules previously carried out should be modified appropriately amid the optimized epidemic response.

The document released by the five authorities said the adjustments in handling criminal cases concerning COVID-19 were made after comprehensively considering the harm of this behavior to society, and aimed to adapt to the new situation of epidemic prevention and control.

However, apart from the optimized changes, the notice also clearly states that those who infringe upon the personal safety of medics, or who disturb normal medical order and seriously obstruct control measures relevant to nursing homes or social welfare institutions will be strictly punished.

It also clarifies that people who produce or sell fake drugs or testing products involving epidemic, smuggle relevant goods or engage in price gouging, causing serious consequences, will be harshly punished.