Amid a series of political bombshells resonating both at home and abroad, the decision by Beijing to extend the term of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council for at least another year, without ousting a handful of democratically elected incumbents, is the best way to deal with the lacuna, or gap, arising from the postponement of elections amid the Covid-19 epidemic. It is to be hoped that legal certainty and continuity can avoid any further disputes and put the city on a steady footing for the future. Unlike the transfer of sovereignty in 1997, when a provisional legislature was set up without the pan-democrats, the “through-train” arrangement for all 70 lawmakers, including the four banned from running in the elections, has provided much-needed stability. It also gives some respite from an increasingly heavy-handed approach to city affairs. The relatively lenient approach has drawn several explanations, ranging from it being a gesture by Beijing to restore political harmony, to an attempt to unite the city in the virus fight, and a move to avoid further tensions with the West, following tit-for-tat sanctions over the imposition of the national security law and other disputes. The four pan-democrats were banned from standing again because of their previous calls for foreign sanctions against Beijing and Hong Kong, which were deemed inconsistent with the national security law and the requirement to uphold the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. The decisions of the returning officers involved are highly controversial and may well be subject to a legal challenge. Given there are different legal bases for disqualifying Legco candidates and members in office, those concerned simply cannot be ousted without going through local proceedings. There are those who may still question the move to get around the four-year Legco term stipulated in the Basic Law. But the decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the highest state authority with the power to interpret the mini-constitution, should pre-empt any legal challenge in a city court. However, the perception of democratic elections being unjustifiably delayed by the local authorities may still prevail among some. That makes the next step even more important. The reaction of the pan-democrats to the decision and future operation of Legco will continue to shape opinions both here and overseas. Although the opposition has criticised the election delay, any boycott of Legco will only further weaken checks and balances. A functional legislature working for the best interests of the people is badly needed to help Hong Kong ride out the storm. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders to ensure this is the way forward.