Beijing Residents Asked to Wear Monitoring Wristbands to Enforce COVID Quarantine, Sparking Outrage

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Some residents of Beijing Local authorities have asked returnees from domestic travel to wear COVID-19 monitoring bracelets, prompting widespread criticism on Chinese social media from users concerned about excessive government surveillance.

According to reports released Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on microblogging platform Weibo, the district committees have asked some Beijing residents returning to the capital to wear electronic bracelets throughout their trip. mandatory period of home quarantine.

Chinese cities are requiring those arriving from parts of China where cases of COVID have been found to be quarantined. The authorities are equipping doors with motion sensors to track their movements, but the use of electronic bracelets has not yet been widely discussed.

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Reports say the wristbands monitor users’ temperature and upload the data to a phone app they were supposed to download.

“This bracelet can connect to the Internet, it can definitely record my location, it’s basically the same as electronic shackles and handcuffs, I won’t wear it,” Weibo user Dahongmao wrote on Wednesday evening, declining to comment further. when contacted by Reuters. .

Beijing residents returning to the city after traveling abroad have been required to wear electronic bracelets to ensure they comply with mandatory home quarantine.  This caused outrage on the Chinese social network Weibo.

Beijing residents returning to the city after traveling abroad have been required to wear electronic bracelets to ensure they comply with mandatory home quarantine. This caused outrage on the Chinese social network Weibo.
(Reuters/Thomas Peter)

This post and other posts with pictures of the bracelets were deleted by Thursday evening, as was the associated hashtag, which had over 30 million views, sparking a lively discussion on the platform.

A social worker in Tiantongyuan, a northern suburb of Beijing, confirmed to the state-backed news outlet Eastday that the measure was in place in the area, though she called the practice “excessive.”

The Weibo post and video posted on the official Eastday.com account were deleted on Thursday afternoon.

Weibo user Dahongmao wrote on Thursday afternoon that his district committee had already taken the bracelets back, telling him “there were too many complaints.”

The protest against electronic bracelets comes in time growing COVID fatigue across China, where defiance and violations are on the rise after a nationwide outbreak in March.

It was not possible to contact the Beijing government for comment after business hours.

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In addition to Beijing, several other regions and jurisdictions have introduced wristbands as a COVID control measure or plan to do so, including Hong Kong, Henan, Inner Mongoliaand Zhejiang, according to Chinese news site Jiemian.

But data privacy concerns and the use of COVID monitoring technology for other purposes, such as setting health codes to prevent protesters from gathering, have left many Chinese wary of such gadgets and apps.