China exempts firms from environment checks to help fight coronavirus

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will exempt firms from on-site environmental checks if they are involved in the production of materials used in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic or have low emissions levels, the country’s environment ministry announced.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has issued guidelines aimed at helping the fight against the coronavirus while at the same time supporting the resumption of economic operations, it said in a notice on Thursday.

It will draw up “positive lists” of firms and projects that will be given support to resume production, including those involved in agriculture, food and drink production, public infrastructure maintenance and fuel supplies.

The ministry will also set up a monitoring system tailored to the requirements of individual regions and the needs of enterprises to resume work, it said.

It said it will also exempt some new projects “urgently needed” to fight against the virus from environmental impact assessment procedures, which are normally required to gain approval.

Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Jane Wardell