Ukraine's Zelenskyy Proposes State of Emergency. What Does It Mean?
17 March, 2020
Law enforcement officers wearing face masks near the Office of the President of Ukraine in Kyiv, March 14, 2020 Serhiy Chuzavkov / UNIAN

Emergency has already been declared by several countries due to the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. The Ukrainian Parliament has not introduced a state of emergency so far, although on March 16 President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the Rada would support his proposal to introduce it in the Zhytomyr and Chernivtsi regions. But what does a state of emergency mean and how can it be imposed in Ukraine?


What is a state of emergency?

A state of emergency is a legal regime that can be temporarily imposed in the case of acts of terrorism, mass riots, attempts to seize power, or emergencies both man-made or naturally occurring.

The state of emergency is governed by the Constitution and the relevant law.


How is it introduced?

By the decree of the President of Ukraine, which must be approved by the Parliament. In the decree, the president should justify why he proposes to declare a state of emergency, explain in which regions of the country and for what period it is introduced, providing a list of rights and freedoms that are temporarily restricted by this state.

The state of emergency in the whole territory of Ukraine can be introduced for not more than 30 days, in a particular locality — for not more than 60 days. If necessary, it can be extended, but not more than for 30 days. The Presidential Decree on Continuation of the State of Emergency must also be approved by the Verkhovna Rada.

The state of emergency may be canceled earlier than the period for which it was declared.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Parliament Adopts Coronavirus Law in Emergency Session


What does it restrict?

Among the restrictions that can be imposed in an emergency are:

  • quarantine and other sanitary and anti-epidemic measures;
  • special arrangements with regard to entry and exit, as well as restrictions on the freedom of movement within the territory where the state of emergency is imposed;
  • restriction of movement of vehicles and their inspection;
  • strengthening of public order and important objects;
  • ban on most mass events;
  • ban on strikes;
  • special order of distribution of products and basic necessities;
  • the use of resources of enterprises, institutions and organizations, regardless of ownership, to prevent danger and eliminate emergencies;
  • changing the mode of operation of enterprises, institutions, organizations, reorienting them to the production required in the state of emergency.

READ MORE: Ukraine's Cabinet Suspends Subway, Interregional Transport Operation


What cannot be restricted and canceled during a state of emergency?

During a state of emergency, the powers of the President, the Parliament, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the executive power and local self-government, as well as the courts, the prosecutor's office, and the law enforcement bodies may not be suspended or restricted.

The following is also forbidden during a state of emergency:

  • amending the Constitution and election laws;
  • holding elections, national and local referendums;
  • introducing diminished or accelerated forms of justice.

READ MORE: Ukrainian Parliament Provides Quarantine-Impacted Businesses With Benefits


What restrictions have you already imposed without declaring a state of emergency?

The government has already introduced restrictive measures across Ukraine to combat the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Mass events involving more than 10 people are prohibited from March 17, as well as the operation of restaurants, cafes, shopping and entertainment centers, other entertainment establishments, fitness centers and cultural institutions.

The Ministry of Health will temporarily suspend planned hospitalization and planned operations, except for urgent ones. Also, the agency should prepare and re-profile medical institutions as much as possible to receive and treat infected patients in serious conditions.

At a March 16 meeting of the Cabinet, it was decided to cease the operation of subways, as well as to cancel air, rail and bus connections between cities and regions of Ukraine. The movement of personal cars has not been limited.

The ban will run until April 3.

Also, since March 16, Ukraine has closed the borders to foreigners for two weeks. Ukrainians who have not managed to return by this time will be transported by special flights.

Quarantine was also introduced in kindergartens, schools and institutions of higher education until April 3.