For Ministers, tackling the immediate problems posed by the pandemic must take precedence.
However, that should not mean that the need to rebuild the economy is neglected.
Now the challenge is to tackle the immediate health service needs and, when possible, refocus on the emerging economic crisis.
People who voted for Brexit are disappointed. So also are people who voted against.
The arrangements made, after months of disagreement, have left most people disappointed. The political settlement expressed in the protocol has created a complex business environment which is frustrating and unhelpful.
Arguably, the tensions caused by the complex documentation demands should be temporary.
The Joint Committee working for the EU and UK governments has the authority to make the arrangements simpler and more understandable. Michael Gove, as the designated UK Minister, must take responsibility. The crisis must be resolved quickly.
The early difficulties in managing the operational details of the protocol are not unexpected but that has created an unfortunate dilemma.
An understandable reaction, faced with disrupted trade arrangements, is to seek to abandon the protocol and revert to the status quo ante. However, that is a legal nightmare worse than improving the protocol arrangements.
The protocol is part of an international agreement and cannot unilaterally be abandoned.
The EU, arguing on behalf of Ireland, would defend the settlement as a critical international agreement.
At this stage, a reminder of the expected benefits from the protocol may help. Northern Ireland manufacturers remain within the EU. Manufacturing businesses in Northern Ireland have the advantage of doing business without trading obstacles as part of the UK economy and, in addition, also have the advantage of doing business with no trading barriers or customs duties within the EU.
On a continuing basis, Northern Ireland manufacturers will stay in regulatory alignment with EU standards to enable local businesses to operate on an agreed competitive basis with other EU businesses.
In the new (post-protocol) arrangements Northern Ireland does have unique advantages.
Goods manufactured here have customs-free access to the UK and EU markets. Those advantages offer the prospect of making Northern Ireland a more attractive location for international investors.
After Brexit there is considerable interest in how this will affect the attractiveness of either the UK or EU markets to international investors.
The Irish economy will continue to seek to attract investors from, for example, the USA on the basis of working languages, business standards, skills and taxation as well as access to an EU market place of over 400 million people.
Northern Ireland-located businesses, following the arrangements of the protocol, should be able to offer similar (or better) advantages as well as easier access to the UK market.
The possible negative conclusion from the changed international conditions is that Great Britain will be less likely to attract investment from the USA.
This conclusion might be a reason for London to adopt a more generous series of State Aids to increase its relative competitiveness.
That will be a critical test of the working of the 'level playing field' agreement included in the post-Brexit trade agreement between Britain and the EU.
The EU and UK(GB) authorities will remain competitors to attract foreign direct investment but no longer offering the same large single market.
Into that difference, Northern Ireland can bridge the gap. For FDI and the businesses already in Northern Ireland, there potentially should be continuing access to both large single markets.
Northern Ireland's representatives at the EU-UK Joint Committee have a negotiating challenge to secure the best outcome. If Northern Ireland is to be a competitive location for international investment, it is critical that Northern Ireland is seen as a stable community.
If the protocol is seen as unlikely to survive then that will add to the danger of deterring investment.
During the early months of 2021 it is important that acceptable working arrangements are agreed to substantiate the possible benefits of the protocol.
The protocol might be improved through negotiation: it would be a major mistake simply to want to walk away.