China’s Health Ministry has drafted new rules on public bathrooms, including restrictions on the number of flies and strength of odor. Authorities believe there should be only one fly per square meter in a bathroom inside a building, and no more than three flies per square meter in a free-standing bathroom.
The country’s notoriously dirty public toilets will now be classified by the rankness of smell. Categories include: strong odors, apparent odors, slight odors and no odors. Public bathrooms must now be maintained above “slight odors.” Formerly, rules on cleanliness were just suggestions, whereas these new rules will be strictly enforced.
The government is looking to employ new assessors to classify public toilets, counting flies and observing pungency. Each facility will be required to have a custodian on staff to address unclean conditions. The Health Ministry has posted new sanitation guidelines to its website but did not indicate what kind of penalty or fine can be expected for unkempt toilets.
"If there is one fly, it simply means there are other flies," explained Jack Sims founder of The World Toilet Organization, a non-profit that focuses on global improvement of sanitation.
New guidelines also seek to double the number of female stalls provided, after women in Guangzhou and Beijing protested the long lines at public toilets. About 14 million Chinese defecate in the open, according to the World Health Organization, rather than visiting public facilities.
This news has generated a great deal of online discussion. Some have brought up fears that higher standards will mean higher fees for using the toilets.