At the start of the first world war, the british public thought it would be over by christmas. many thought the same of the pandemic. now, as then, it has proved wishful thinking. on monday, britains medical experts warned of a tough six months ahead. concern over rising coronavirus cases worldwide sent bank and leisure group shares down sharply.

How to plan amid so much uncertainty? the worlds biggest events company, uk-listed informa, originally hoped business would pick up from september. on monday it said it would postpone physical events until mid- to late spring of next year, as it tracked the bleakest of the alternative scenarios it sketched in april. that too could be overly optimistic, but at least that will be the other side of winter, the us election and perhaps a vaccine.

Chart showing that train passenger numbers are down. journeys, car vs train as a % of same day last year

China, though, is back on track and not just for informa. it is the only big economy expected to expand this year. the uk, by contrast, is likely to be badly hit, with gdp falling by more than a tenth, the oecd says. that is partly down to the make-up of the economy, limiting the lift from the revival in manufacturing. moreover, fiscal support, though unprecedented, has lagged behind some other big economies.

More must be done. an extension of business support schemes is likely to be announced this week. on monday, emergency funding was announced for the rail industry, after passenger numbers dropped by as much as two-thirds compared with the previous year. the terms are tight, though. the shares prices of train companies firstgroup and go-ahead group fell sharply.

Chart showing that service-based economies are particularly affected by the pandemic. share of employment , transportation & storage, arts, entertainment & recreation are the hardest-hit sectors, 2019 (%)

The pandemics habit of recurrence leaves vaccination as the best hope for populations wearied by social restrictions and the threat of infection. the uk has pre-ordered more vaccines per capita than any other country: about 5 doses for each citizen.

Chart showing that the uk economy is among the hardest hit in terms of real gdp growth, 2020 (%)

A mass rollout could happen early next year, the uks health secretary said on monday. that may be pushing it. the world health organization does not expect widespread jabs until june, at least. international travel can only resume in earnest when the disease is in abeyance worldwide. afull return to normality must be more than a year away.

Is lex right that normal service in the uk will not resume much before late 2021? or is that too pessimistic? the lex team is interested in hearing more from readers. please tell us what you think in the comments section below.