Difference Between a Curfew and a Lockdown
By Marc Gordon - May 17, 2022

When a society is in a state of unrest, it is common for the government to issue a restriction on the movement or activities of the general public. This is usually to guarantee the safety of the citizens. Still, it is possible to issue a restriction of movement to preserve the peace of the general public or enforce order while avoiding the disruption of other activities. There are several such restrictions, but the two most easily confused for one another – in light of recent activities- are lockdowns and curfews.

Table Summary

The government can only issue itIt can be issued by both public and private entities
Essential services such as banks, hospitals, law enforcement, and food services are unavailable.Essential services are made available.
Lasts for a stipulated amount of time.The duration which it lasts is usually unknown.


A curfew is an order applied by the government to keep civilians away from the public within a set period. It is usually announced when there has been some form of violence in a public space as a preventive measure.

A lockdown is an emergency response by an entity, whether public or private, that imposes immediate cessation of activities on the entity members until the crisis is averted.

Curfew VS Lockdown

The duration lies the most obvious telltale difference between a curfew and a lockdown. While curfews are announced long before they begin – as little as a couple of hours and as long as a month or more, Lockdowns are imposed in relatively shorter durations – usually nothing more than a day. The time range of a curfew is also clearly stipulated in the announcement, while the time range of a lockdown is usually unknown until the immediate crisis is averted. Also, while only the government can issue a curfew on the general public, a lockdown can be issued either by the government or a private entity. For example, an organization can impose an immediate lockdown on all of its employees within the premises.