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17 February 2021

A return to normal won’t necessarily mean a return to normal government spending

For UK businesses dependent on trade from abroad, the economic effects of the pandemic will last for a very long time.

By Stephen Bush

A huge increase in the number of tests, in addition to the vaccine roll-out, are key to the government’s plans to ease and end the lockdown, Henry Zeffman reveals in the Times.

Although vaccines are a game-changer, continuing to develop a strong infrastructure to test, trace and isolate (that last element of which the UK and much of Europe continues to struggle with) is a useful permanent tool for the state to have in the event of future pandemics. 

But while “normality” should begin to return to the UK very soon, for domestic businesses that rely on trade from abroad – be they heavily dependent on tourism, or the average British cinema – the economic effects of the pandemic will last for a very long time.

[see also: How the UK could vaccinate every adult by mid-May and end lockdown]

That means that subsidy and debt relief for some businesses may need to be part of the government’s plan for some time to come, and underlines that a return to normal for the public shouldn’t necessarily be accompanied by a return to normal in government spending. 

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[see also: Why Rishi Sunak can’t escape blame for the Covid-19 crisis]

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