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EXPLAINER: Understanding how martial law works, amidst the coronavirus outbreak

Kazakhstan soldiers wearing face masks block an area in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Thursday, March 19, 2020. A residential block in Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital and largest city, has been surrounded by the military and blocked for entry and exit after one of the residents was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov)
Kazakhstan soldiers wearing face masks block an area in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Thursday, March 19, 2020. A residential block in Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital and largest city, has been surrounded by the military and blocked for entry and exit after one of the residents was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

As social distancing recommendations aren’t fully being followed and cities in the US begin to go under lockdown, many wonder what’s next to come and if martial law is a possibility.

Misinformation spread on social media regarding martial law, often misspelled “marshall,” is causing some people to panic.

Senator Marco Rubio chimed into the trending topic to let his followers know what martial law isn’t.

Here’s what martial law is:

Martial law is an order imposed by the government of direct military control of the United States civilization, in response to a temporary emergency such as invasion or major disaster.

In this case, martial law would be used to combat coronavirus.

While its imposition is uncommon, the United States has imposed the rule during times of war, natural disasters and civic disputes, according to Military Times.

In the United States, martial law can be called on only by the president, or governor only within state borders.

According to WNBC, under martial law, the military would have the responsibility of enforcing order, keeping the peace, and ensuring the state remains functioning.


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