Guangzhou and Shenzhen have enacted urgent measures to allow their governments to temporarily take over private properties for disease prevention and control.

According to official figures, there were more than 44,000 confirmed cases of the new SARS-like “covid-19” virus in the mainland as of Wednesday, and more than 1,000 infected people have died. There have been 1,177 confirmed cases in Guangdong province, which neighbours Hong Kong.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen’s city legislatures passed the measures on Tuesday during urgent meetings. It marks the first time after the establishment of China’s property law in 2007 where governments have been allowed to seize private property using emergency powers.

Guangzhou skyline
Guangzhou. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/jo.sau.

The Guangzhou legislature passed a decision that said authorities could implement emergency administrative measures or announce policies related to health and hygiene, quarantine, transport management, community management, guarantee of funds, protection of labour, management of wild animals, and other items.

Under the decision passed on Tuesday morning, Guangzhou authorities can also temporarily take over houses, venues, vehicles and relevant facilities for the purposes of disease control.

They can also demand the production and supply of resources and daily necessities from relevant enterprises and organisations.

“Emergency takeover orders should be sent to relevant units and persons and registration should be completed. Compensation should be given in accordance with the law. Those that can be returned should be returned as soon as possible,” the decision said.

Shenzhen. Photo: Pixabay.

A similar decision was passed by Shenzhen’s legislature on Tuesday afternoon.

The decisions were implemented immediately and the end time will be announced at a later date.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.