Some Beijing residents recently reported that after returning to Beijing from other places, the community staff asked them to wear electronic monitoring bracelets during the Covid-19 home quarantine period, arousing public concern.

According to a Weibo post circulated on Wednesday evening, a Beijing resident with the nickname Dahongmao said that he had to report his nucleic acid test results after returning to Beijing during his home quarantine. 

The community staff told him that the policy was updated and that quarantined residents had to wear electronic monitoring bracelets. The bracelet, developed by Beijing Microchip Sensing Technology, is connected to mobile phones. In addition, staff told him it would be more convenient for residents to report body temperature.

However, he said that there wasn’t any document showing such a policy. He also found that there was no China Compulsory Certification, a compulsory safety mark for many products in the Chinese market, on the packaging of the electronic bracelet he received. Therefore, he felt reluctant to wear it.

He wrote, “This bracelet can connect to the Internet, it can definitely record my whereabouts, it is basically the same as electronic fetters and handcuffs, I won’t  wear this.”

On Thursday, Weibo user Dahongmao said that the community had taken back the bracelets because there were too many complaints.

According to Chinese media Da Ji Yuan, a community staff of Beijing Tiantongyuan’s residential community told Chinese media news outlet that the practice was in effect in the neighborhood.

The staff added that except for taking a bath or charging, quarantined residents must wear the bracelet 24 hours a day for seven days until the last nucleic acid test results are released.

As Reuters reported, many Chinese people are wary of such technology. It’s due to data privacy issues and using COVID monitoring technology for other purposes, such as setting health codes on alert to prevent demonstrators from gathering.

According to the Chinese news site Jiemian, several other regions and jurisdictions across China have already implemented or intended to implement bracelets as a COVID control measure. These include Hong Kong, Henan, Inner Mongolia, and Zhejiang.

The topic then prompted an animated discussion on the Weibo platform.

One user wrote: This measure should be illegal, right? In the eyes of some people, civil rights can be trampled at will?

Another said: Aren’t they electronic shackles on hands?

Beijing public health hotline told state-backed news outlet Tianmu News that they did not receive any information requiring residents in home quarantine to wear electronic bracelets. Therefore, this might be due to the epidemic prevention requirements of local communities.

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