Measures and precautions for businesses resuming operations in China following the COVID-19 outbreak

Several recent reports claim that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in China is beginning to slow down and generally under control, prompting businesses in China to resume operations. In order to minimise further spreading of the virus as employees return to work, the PRC government has issued different local rules and guidelines to ensure enterprises are adequately prepared. Some organisations have even been required to file online in advance to reopen offices/workplaces before the first level emergency response has been lifted in the city concerned.

It is important to note that if an enterprise fails to take legally required epidemic preventive measures, and as a result of which, its failure leads to the spread of the epidemic, or causes personal injury, monetary losses, or other serious consequences, it may be ordered by the local government to cease production or business. Its business licence may be suspended or canceled, and it could be liable to an administrative penalty of up to RMB200,000, and be held responsible for civil liability in certain cases.

Below is a brief summary of the major (but not exhaustive) requirements for organisations resuming work in China as of the date of this Alert. The local rules and guidelines can vary from place to place, and may change from time to time as the situation develops.

1. 

Preparation for resuming work

Before resuming work, each enterprise must complete the following preparations:

  • put in place an epidemic prevention mechanism such as a comprehensive contingency plan designating responsible persons and specifying their major duties;

  • investigate the present health conditions of employees resuming to work and their whereabouts during the past 14 days; and

  • ensure the supply of all necessary epidemic prevention equipment, including masks, disinfectant fluids, and thermometers.

2. 

Filing procedures for resuming full work

If so required by the local government, after completing the preparation works outlined above, enterprises will also need to complete online filing with the relevant local authority for permission to resume full work.

3. 

Precautionary measures after work has been resumed

After work has been resumed, enterprises must continue to take the necessary preventive measures, including:

  • conduct closed-off management and prohibit the entry of any irrelevant personnel;

  • avoid hosting any social or business events which require people to gather;

  • take (and record, if required) the body temperature of all staff members, and report the result to the relevant authority on a daily basis until further notice; and

  • sanitise, disinfect and ventilate the workplace frequently.

Notwithstanding the above, enterprises are encouraged to use video conferencing, remote working and any other practical measures to control the unnecessary movement of personnel where possible.

Under the present circumstances, it is advisable to keep up-to-date with local rules regarding the control of the epidemic, closely communicate with relevant officials responsible for guiding businesses as they resume work, and assess the risk of fully restoring operations before the local emergency alarm is lifted. Should you have any specific questions or concerns about resuming your business operations in China, please do not hesitate to contact us.