This article joins with others in this special issue to examine the evolution of our understanding of how the coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic impacted policy ideas and routines across a wide variety of sectors of government activity. Did policy ideas and routines transform as a result of the pandemic or were they merely a continuation of the status quo ante? If they did transform, are the transformations temporary in nature or likely to lead to significant, deep and permanent reform to existing policy paths and trajectories? As this article sets out, the literature on policy punctuations has evolved and helps us understand the impact of COVID-19 on policy-making but tends to conflate several distinct aspects of path trajectories and deviations under the general concept of "critical junctures" which muddy reflections and findings. Once the different possible types of punctuations have been clarified, however, the result is a set of concepts related to path creation and disruption—especially that of "path clearing"—which are better able to provide an explanation of the kinds of policy change to be expected to result from the impact of events such as the 2019 coronavirus pandemic.
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