What Happens During a State of National Emergency?

Published March 26, 2020
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A state of emergency may be declared if a medical epidemic or pandemic breaks out, if there is a natural disaster, or if there is a war. Different countries will have some variations regarding what constitutes a state of emergency.

What Happens When a State of Emergency Is Declared?

A state of emergency can be declared in order to protect citizens and return the environment back to normal as quickly as possible. What exactly happens will vary, depending on the situation, but often:

  • It allows the government to prevent essential goods and products from being marked up excessively so individuals can continue to purchase what they need to survive during a difficult time.
  • Disaster aid and funding may also be implemented during this time to assist citizens and pertinent businesses and professionals such as medical professionals, pharmacies, and grocery stores.
  • Many countries have rules in place to prevent the abuse of declaring a state of emergency as it often forgoes certain citizens' rights.

Understanding a State of Emergency

A national state of emergency is declared under strict regulations in order to protect the public as best as possible from disasters, warfare, and pandemics. In the United States, it does not automatically trigger closure of the government, companies, or schools. Some businesses and schools may opt to close if they have a certain policy in place or if they feel it would be best under the given circumstances. Unless officially stated, driving, as well as other forms of transportation are typically allowed so individuals can continue to fulfill necessary errands. Even if a national state of emergency is enacted, local and state government officials can impose other regulations specifically for one geographic area if they feel it will better protect local citizens.

Who Can Declare a State of Emergency in the US?

A state of emergency in the United States can be declared by:

  • General assembly
  • Mayors
  • The governor or governing body
  • The president

State of Emergency in Other Countries

Declaring a state of emergency in countries other than the United States can look very similar to what Americans experience. Like the United States, many countries may declare a general state of emergency and another, smaller department focused on one geographic region may enact more specific regulations that are aimed at maintaining citizens' overall safety and wellbeing. Depending on the reason for the declaration of a state of emergency, these circumstances can impact:

  • Citizens day-to-day abilities such as leaving the house and socializing
  • Citizen's rights
  • The ability to travel
  • Individual's curfews
  • Certain businesses's ability to stay open
  • How much each household is able to purchase

Staying Up to Date

During a national emergency, it's important to stay up to date and remain as calm as possible. It can be easy to get swept away in the news and social media and feel overwhelmed by the current circumstances. Finding healthy ways to cope is incredibly important during a time where panic may feel heightened. Explore different avenues when it comes to finding healthy ways to decompress and reach out to a trusted individual or crisis line if you would like extra support. If possible, limit the news and be sure to check an official government website to better understand the emergency and know what actions need to be taken to keep you and your loved ones safe.

What Happens During a State of National Emergency?