Uncivilized Behavior

People wearing face masks go shopping in Beijing as the city announces new hygiene rules amid the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: AFP

Beijing has banned “uncivilized behavior” such as not covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, the city government said in a new set of regulations to improve public “hygiene” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The laws aim to promote “civilized behavior” and relate to combating the pandemic which has infected more than 82,000 in China alone.

People who break the rules will be slapped with fines for offenses including not wearing a mask in public when ill, the municipal government said on its website.

The laws also require public places to set up one meter distance markers and to provide communal chopsticks and serving spoons for shared meals.

Citizens must also “dress neatly” in public and not go shirtless, an apparent reference to the so-called “Beijing bikini” practice where men roll T-shirts up to expose their stomachs in hot weather.

The state-run Global Times said the rule equaled a “total ban” of the practice in public places.

Beijing already discourages a range of “uncivilized” behaviors” including “public spitting, littering, walking dogs unleashed, throwing things from high buildings, public defecation and smoking in places where it is prohibited.” 

But the latest rules, passed on outline new specific punishments.

“Fines for littering, spitting and defecation in public were upped to a maximum of 200 yuan ($28), from a previous upper limit of 50 yuan.”

In the past, these regulations were enforced in a “patchy” way and the habits have not been stamped out completely.

Those who do not sort their rubbish correctly can be fined up to 200 yuan, and residents responsible for noise pollution in public spaces and who walk their dogs unleashed can be fined up to 500 yuan.

The laws also encourage police to report serious offenses which may affect a person’s “social credit score”, a fledgling system which aims to assess individual actions across society, though it did not provide more specifics.

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