A public emergency is an extraordinary situation that poses a threat to the safety and security of a country. A state of emergency (SOE), also called a state of public emergency (SOPE), is a period during which a government declares that a public emergency exists and is empowered to enforce actions and policies not normally permitted in order to gain control of the situation.
- Public emergencies can arise as a result of occurrences including, but not limited to a(n):
- Natural disasters
- Catastrophic Fire
- Outbreak of infection
- Drastic increase in crime
When an SOE is called, the Government grants the security forces temporary additional powers.
- Powers of search (of a person or building) without a warrant
- Powers of arrest and detention (for up to seven days) without a warrant
- Power to curtail operating hours of businesses
The announcement of an SOE usually includes an outline of the physical areas to which the provision applies. These are called boundaries. A virtual map of the boundaries may also be provided. The boundaries of an SOE may in some cases be supplied after it is announced.
During an SOE, a curfew may also be enforced. This details the times during which persons in the relevant area(s) are permitted to be out in public. During the hours of a curfew, all persons in the stipulated areas are required to remain indoors. Persons found in breach of the curfew may be detained by security forces.
When applicable, details of a curfew are also usually outlined during the SOE announcement but may be provided afterwards.
As the enforcement of a curfew might disrupt necessary activities for residents, the Government may choose to make provisions to mitigate the impact on persons going about their normal business. These include:
- Encouraging or mandating an adjustment to work hours
- Enforcing work-from-home orders where applicable
- Allowing delivery of food and other essential items during curfew hours
The End of an SOE
When the stipulated period of an SOE is nearing its end, the Government reviews the situation to determine whether the provision should be lifted or continued. Once a decision is made, it is made public.
If the decision is to extend the SOE, the details are officially recorded and published. A decision to end an SOE is usually taken once the situation is under control. The decision is announced and the Government takes steps to maintain the control gained during the SOE.
For additional information, contact:
Ministry of National Security
2 Oxford Road
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