China ceases criminal charges for breaching COVID-19 response measures
People violating COVID-19 prevention and control measures or provisions on frontier health and quarantine will not face criminal charges in China starting January 8, according to a circular released by authorities on Saturday.
Relevant cases in the process of handling should be handled in a timely and prompt manner in accordance with provisions of the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law, says the document, jointly released by the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and three other departments.
It adds that suspects and defendants in custody for such violations should be released in accordance with the laws, and properties involved in the cases that are sealed up, seized, or frozen should be freed.
The authorities said the adjustments in handling criminal cases concerning COVID-19 were made after comprehensively considering the harm of the behaviors to the society, and aim to adapt to the new situations of the epidemic prevention and control.
However, criminal acts, including infringing on the personal safety of medics, disrupting medical order, seriously obstructing COVID-19 control at key institutions such as aged care facilities and social welfare institutions, counterfeiting and selling epidemic-related drugs and detection reagents will be severely punished according to law, says the circular.
On January 8, China is scheduled to downgrade its management of COVID-19 from Class A to Class B, and remove COVID-19 from its list of quarantinable infectious diseases.