This week's Councillor Column is written by Richard Trail, SNP councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South.

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The current lockdown is only five weeks old, yet it feels like a lifetime.

Every day is like the Sunday afternoon when Andy Murray won Wimbledon; the sun shone, but we all sat indoors watching the TV. It gives us all a taste of being on holiday under house arrest.

When life returns to some kind of normality there will be economic consequences. There will be hardship for many of our citizens who will suffer financial loss through no fault of their own.

The current lockdown will be causing stress for many people even now. What must it be like for a young family living in a flat under the strictures of ‘stay at home’ and ‘social distancing’?

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The local economy will take a hit; of that there is no doubt. In Argyll and Bute the tourism industry is a wipeout for this year.

It is a major part of our local economy providing employment in fragile rural areas, and bringing income to so many small businesses.

The Chancellor has made extravagant promises to support businesses. Promises are but words, and it is the actions which count, and the early indications are that the promised financial support is slow in being delivered.

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Funds may not arrive in time to prevent the closure of once thriving companies.

The rules surrounding the grants and loans on offer have been drawn up in haste, and are overly restrictive. Unless there is some flexibility in interpreting the rules, many good businesses will fall between the cracks and go to the wall unnecessarily.

On the plus side, Argyll has a flourishing food and drinks industry. The companies in this sector usually perform well in a national crisis as folk will continue to eat and drink.

There is good reason to hope that the distilleries, the fish farmers, and the producers of specialised foods will come out of this crisis better and stronger than ever.

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The collapse in tourist numbers and the closure of the hospitality trade will have an impact in the immediate short term. But so long as the food producers are not wholly dependent on the local tourist market they will survive the short term hit.

Our island distilleries have been investing in building new and much improved visitor facilities. They will see a big reduction in visitor numbers this year but their core business will continue to bring in revenue to tide them over this exceptional year.

We can all help by supporting local businesses when the lockdown is terminated.

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