A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to perform actions that it would normally not be allowed to. A government can declare such state during a disaster, civil unrest, or armed conflict. Such declaration alerts citizens to change their normal behaviour and orders government agencies to implement emergency plans. This basically means that a government gives itself special powers to try to control an unusually difficult or dangerous situation. An emergency declaration can change the legal and operational landscape in which governments, private organizations, and the public operate during an emergency.

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