The central government has banned officials from using the Sars outbreak as an excuse to charge extra fees to rural residents. The ban is probably aimed at preventing more tension in rural areas, where Sars has already caused worried farmers to attack hospitals, clinics and medical workers. The Ministry of Finance told local governments not to charge farmers for compulsory disinfection of their vehicles and machinery. There is also a ban on charging fees to farmers who were quarantined for observation, and on Sars prevention literature. Many city governments have required travellers from Beijing to pay their own hotel fees when they are quarantined in local guesthouses. Local officials have additionally been told not to force farmers to buy face masks and disinfectant. A Ministry of Finance official said yesterday that the bans were precautionary and that there had been no complaints.