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With a second wave of coronavirus, now is not the time for a hard Brexit

Editorial: The government must now postpone the end of the transition period for a year

Wednesday 23 September 2020 00:59 BST

Will it work?  

The latest plan for a partial lockdown attempts to strike a delicate balance between the demands of public health, non-Covid care in the NHS, the economy and the liberties and social lives of people facing, potentially, another six months of semi-isolation from friends and family. It seems almost cruel to point out that the span of these renewed restrictions will cover Christmas and Hogmanay, and indeed possibly as far as Easter 2021. Importantly, it will encompass the scheduled end of the Brexit transition period – a second economic disaster we can see coming all too well, but which could be averted by a single phone call from Downing Street to Brussels.

It will be a longer slog than the lockdown in the spring, even though the schools, shops, pubs and restaurants will be open for at least some of the time. Measures across the four nations of the UK are broadly matched, though more stringent in Scotland, and the messaging this time should be clearer than in recent weeks. There will still be local lockdowns during what Boris Johnson calls a crucial turning point. Sport is cancelled for spectators, the theatres still dark.

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