If you have been keeping track of what is going on recently, I am sure that you have heard of the Wuhan Coronavirus, which has been on a rampage for the past few weeks. In this article, I will answer three of the most popular questions regarding the legal aspects of the virus.

1. Can I Terminate My Rental Contract Due To Force Majuere?

If you have read my previous articles, you may have learnt that a clause named “Force Majeure” allows contracts to be terminated when certain situations happen.

Unfortunately, this is not one of them. Although certain cities are under lockdown, many flights have been halted and you may be stuck outside China, this does not affect the normal use of the apartment and Force Majeure is not a valid reason. Only under circumstances like natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano explosions or hurricanes that destroy the building itself or cause it to be unsafe to live in, or when the government has put a lockdown on the whole building and blocks you from entering, may the contract be terminated.

The apartment in this case may still be used normally, and therefore the purpose of the rental contract, which is to let you use the apartment under the time frame stipulated is not defeated. The virus is not a valid reason to end the contract.

2. What If You Cannot Go To Work Due To Being Quarantined?

On the 24th of January, the government issued a statement regarding labour policies for employees that have contracted the virus and are being quarantined. As I have translated and summarized the statement into two short paragraphs for you to understand.

To commence with, employees that have been quarantined shall not have their wages deducted or be fired. That includes employees quarantined for having the virus, those who display similar symptoms but have not been diagnosed yet, and those who have been in close contact with the sick.

If the labour contract has ended within the quarantine period, it will be automatically extended by law to the end of the period. The employer shall have to pay wages for the extended period.

Corporations which are facing difficulties in operation due to the virus may not terminate workers without obtaining authorization from the local labour union. The government will subsidize corporations that have fulfilled certain criteria.

3. Can You Escape From The Hospital After Being Diagnosed With The Coronavirus?

No! It is a crime to escape from the hospital as this endangers public safety. As the virus is highly contagious, being outside the treatment ward exposes other healthy people to the risk. According to the Criminal Law, you may face up to 7 years in jail just for leaving the quarantine area/hospital. Depending on the number of people who receive the virus from you, at least an additional 3 years will be added to your sentence. The worse punishment is the death penalty.

Thank you for reading the article. If you have any further questions regarding the legal aspects of the virus, please leave a comment and I shall release another article regarding your concerns as soon as possible.

Legal Basis

Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Several Issues concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases of Obstructing the Prevention or Control of Unexpected Epidemics of Infectious Diseases and Other Disasters

Article 1

Whoever deliberately spreads the pathogens of an unexpected infectious disease, thereby endangering public security, shall be convicted of and punished for the crime of endangering public security by dangerous means in accordance with Article 114 or paragraph 1 of Article 115 of the Criminal Law.

Whoever suffering from an unexpected infectious disease or being suspected of suffering from an unexpected infectious disease refuses to accept quarantine, compulsory isolation or treatment and negligently causes the spread of the infectious disease, if the circumstances are serious and public security is endangered, shall be convicted of and punished for the crime of negligently endangering public security by dangerous means in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 115 of the Criminal Law.

Criminal LawArticle 115   

Whoever commits arson, breaches a dike, causes explosion, spreads poison or inflicts serious injury or death on people or causes heavy losses of public or private property by other dangerous means, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years, life imprisonment or death. Whoever negligently commits the crime mentioned in the preceding paragraph shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than seven years; if the circumstances are minor, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years or criminal detention.

Civil Law

Article 180

No Civil Liability is borne in case of failure to perform civil duties due to force majeure, unless otherwise provided by law. Force majeure means unforeseeable, unavoidable and unconquerable objective situations.

Author

Edgar is a law graduate of Fudan University with a mission is to promote a law to serve better mankind, and he believes that legal literacy is a key factor to success. Since his childhood, Edgar has been taking joy in writing fiction and short stories. He hopes that through reading his legal stories, the traditional, passive way of learning law in class can be disrupted and readers can experience a brand new world by taking an active role and spending a few minutes every day.