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

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We have had lockdown, and now, it appears, the immediate health crisis is subsiding.

Now we need to press the pedal called recovery. If there is a resurgence of the virus, at least the medics will be better prepared.

The economy is in dire need of stimulus to bring it back to life. That many businesses will fall into administration over the next year is certain.

READ MORE: Special report as Helensburgh's retailers get ready to reopen after lockdown

New companies will spring up to replace them, as the enterprising seize on the opportunities that the future will bring. The high street is not dead, and it will change to better supply needs of customers.

The long period of idleness has shown some pointers as to how the future can be different.

The town’s streets have been much quieter. There has been an explosion in cycling. It has been a joy to see so many youngsters out on their bikes with mum or dad – though the absence of safety helmets on some has been alarming.

The absence of vehicles has made a safe space for walkers and cyclists. That more people will cycle if space is made available to them seems clear.

READ MORE: 'If we want Helensburgh's independent shops to survive, we need to support them'

But simply sharing space with vehicles does not give cyclists the assurance that they can travel safely.

The centre of Helensburgh was laid out with broad streets which could accommodate more cycle lanes. Safe cycle and walking routes to the schools could dispense with the need for the ‘school run’.

Tourism is a big part of the Argyll economy. And tourism is on its knees. There is speculation that there will be a rapid bounce back with people opting for ‘staycations’.

It has been many years since the realisation that the lure of the Scottish summer weather could no longer compete with the sun-drenched beaches of Spain. But the threat of 14 days’ quarantine on return from holiday is a dampener on overseas travel.

READ MORE: Helensburgh businesses' response to pandemic 'has been outstanding'

Whether the tourism sector does return to health quickly will depend to a large extent on the government’s restrictions on social distancing.

If the two-metre rule is maintained much longer, we are sure to see ever more pubs, cafes and restaurants closing down.

It is not much fun going out for a convivial meal under strict two-metre distancing. Businesses will not be able to long survive if their premises have a greatly reduced capacity.

There are difficulties ahead, but the medium to long-term future is bright, with new opportunities for renewal.

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