Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
27 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Why a coronavirus “exit strategy“ is an impossible goal

By Samuel Horti

The UK government has said repeatedly that it will only follow other European countries in easing lockdown measures when five tests are met, one of which guarantees that no restriction will be lifted if doing so risks a second peak of infections. This test, writes Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College London, on the New Statesman today, is surrounded by uncertainties, and any claims to answer it are “hostage to fortune”.  

Indeed, the very term “exit strategy” is problematic, he argues. As Freedman writes, the term has its roots in military interventions in the 1990s and, just as it was then, our “only honest course is to acknowledge the uncertainties and so prepare for a long haul without quick results”.

“Of course, there are important differences, not least in that an exit strategy in this case does not provide the enemy with vital clues about what to expect. The big difference is that while it is possible to exit from a foreign country, we must live in our own and cope with a threat that can’t be banished.”

Read the full piece here.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them