COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker
Keep Civic Space Healthy
This tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affect civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws. For information about our methodology, click here.
For more information and analysis by region, click here.
The COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker is a collaborative effort by the ICNL, ECNL, and our global network of partners, with generous research support from the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin. This is an ongoing effort, and we welcome you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to share additional resources.
Restriction of Movement Order
The order mandates a "complete restriction" of movement and assembly nationwide. The order closes all houses of worship, non-essential businesses, and all government and private premises, except for those providing essential services. The order also bars Malaysians from travelling overseas, and prevents visitors from entering the country. (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 18 Mar 2020
Issue(s): Assembly, Movement
Arrests and Criminal Penalties for "Fake News"
Malaysian authorities are arresting individuals for spreading "fake news" related to COVID-19. Individuals are charged with provisions of the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act that carry penalties of up to one year in prison and 50,000 Malaysian Ringgit ($11,400). (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 29 Jan 2020
Issue(s): Disinformation, Expression
Executive Order 2020-67 (COVID-19)
The Governor of Michigan declared a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act on March 10, 2020. Under the Act, both houses of the legislature must approve a request to extend the state of emergency, otherwise it expires after 28 days. While both houses agreed to extend the emergency until April 30, they did not agree to extend it further. In response, on April 29, the Governor declared the emergency over, but she then declared a new emergency under the Emergency Management Act one minute later on the same day, thus triggering a new, 28-day period in which the emergency is in effect, but does not require legislative approval.(See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 29 Apr 2020
States of Emergency in All 50 States
As of April 7, 2020, all 50 U.S. states have declared a "state of emergency" in response to COVID-19. 42 states have issued orders urging residents to stay at home. Several of the remaining states have stay at home orders in parts of the state. Washington State was the first to declare a state of emergency on March 2, 2020. (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 7 Apr 2020
Issue(s): Emergency, Movement
Banning Spread of False Information in Puerto Rico
The order by Puerto Rico's governor makes it illegal for media outlets or social media accounts “to transmit or allow the transmission” of “false information with the intention of creating confusion, panic, or public hysteria, with regards to any proclamation or executive order declaring an emergency, disaster or curfew.” (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 6 Apr 2020
Issue(s): Disinformation, Press Freedom, Expression, Access to Information
Measures to Contain the Spread of Coronavirus in Puerto Rico
The governor's executive order establishes a lockdown, requiring residents to stay in their homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week between March 31 and April 12, 2020. The order provides limited circumstances for leaving between 5am and 7pm. Under the order, "breaching, disrespecting, or disobeying" the curfew may be punished with up to 6 months in jail and a $5000 fine. (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 30 Mar 2020
Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
Declares that the Covid-19 outbreak constitutes a "national emergency." (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 13 Mar 2020
Measures Affecting Public Record Requests and Public Meeting Requirements
Federal agencies and state and local governments have issued a mix of policy directives, orders, and laws regarding the impact of COVID-19 on public record requests and public meeting requirements. Some states, such as New Jersey or Washington DC, have suspended deadlines for responding to public record requests for the duration of the emergency. With regard to public meeting requirements, most states have changed their rules to allow for virtual meetings that the public can observe, but some, such as Illinois and Nebraska, have not explicitly provided for public participation in virtual meetings. (See primary source or citation here)