The state of emergency will allow the arrest of demonstrators blocking the roads. The measure must be approved by the Sri Lankan parliament within 14 days.
The country has been rocked by civil unrest since March, with protests turning violent at times as anger mounts over the government’s apparent mishandling of the country’s economic crisis.
On Friday, police fired tear gas at protesters near the country’s parliament in the national capital of Colombo.
The state of emergency has drawn criticism from some, with opposition leader Sajith Premadasa saying the measure “goes against the search for a solution to the crisis”.
Rajapaksa previously declared a state of emergency on April 1, but canceled it after five days.
Protesters demanded Rajapaksa’s resignation, frustrated by soaring prices for food, fuel and other basic necessities as the government runs out of money. Many have been forced to spend hours in the scorching heat to fill up their tanks at gas stations or to receive food and medicine.
This week, Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ali Sabry admitted that the country’s financial reserves were nearly depleted. The country appealed to the International Monetary Fund for emergency funding.