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Emergency Declaration FAQ

Q. How can a city or town declare an emergency? The mayor of a city or town is authorized under A.R.S. § 26-311 to declare an emergency due to any number of circumstances including any natural or man-made calamity or disaster. This authority is in addition to other powers granted by law or charter.

Q. What happens after an emergency proclamation has been issued by the mayor? The city or town is governed by proclamation and the mayor has authority to impose all necessary regulations to preserve the peace and order of the city or town. This may include imposing curfews in all or part of the municipality, ordering the closing of any businesses, restricting public access to public buildings, streets or other public places, and coordinating with law enforcement agencies and organizations for assistance.

Q. Why declare a local emergency when the state has declared an emergency? There are various reasons for declaring a local emergency, especially in these conditions when a global pandemic has been declared by the World Health Organization.

A local proclamation provides a city or town with flexibility to respond to its residents when conditions are beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the city or town due to the emergency. For example, several municipalities have restricted the consumption of food and beverages on the premises at restaurants and other dining locations to comply with the social distancing recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health Services.

There are certain laws in place that can make it challenging to continue normal government operations during a pandemic when the workforce is diminished, public access is restricted due to quarantine and isolation protocols, and the situation continues to change each day. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 26-307 an emergency proclamation allows existing laws, ordinances, orders, rules and regulations in conflict with the emergency powers to be suspended during the time and to the extent they conflict.
Further, during periods of local emergency, cities and towns have full power to provide mutual aid to other communities in accordance with local ordinances, resolutions, emergency plans or agreements and localities may be assisted by state agencies.

A local proclamation provides a municipality with the ability to best serve its residents during uncertain times.

Q. Is a local emergency declaration required to access federal reimbursement for costs incurred by local governments responding to the pandemic? It is unclear whether a local declaration is required but it is a factor that is being considered by cities and towns when determining if a local emergency proclamation is necessary. While there is currently no state or federal assistance program that requires a local declaration of emergency, circumstances are changing on a daily basis and many cities and towns are finding that its best to establish the emergency in order to best position their community for any future reimbursement. A list of cities and towns that have declared a local emergency can be found here.