This week's Community Column is written by John Clark, vice-chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

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By this stage of the Covid-19 crisis we could all be forgiven for getting pretty ‘stir-crazy’ with the lockdown.

Its disruption to our lives and businesses has had significant effects already, and no doubt will have impacts for some time to come.

However, adversity has shown itself to be a generator of innovation and creativity. Necessity has indeed been the mother of invention.

It has been wonderful to see that many local businesses have taken their services into the online and ‘virtual’ world, either through platforms like Facebook, YouTube or a fully developed web presence.

READ MORE: Look back at our special report on how Helensburgh's shops prepared to reopen after lockdown

Ordering food online for home delivery is one aspect that many local restaurants and other outlets have bought into, but it goes much further than that.

Back in January, who would have thought the area would abound with online teaching groups covering things like arts and crafts, fitness, yoga and weight loss?

Many people who had never heard of Zoom are now experts in using it for client meetings, networking and family chats.

As good as all that is, I’m probably not alone in missing the face-to-face contact of the ‘old normal’ and hoping that it will again become a part of the ‘new normal’ at some stage.

READ MORE: Behind the scenes at one Helensburgh salon as town's businesses emerge from lockdown

While working online, alongside the significant financial assistance to many from government, has been a key factor in survival for many businesses, it is unlikely to be the full answer for the longer term.

Online orders and classes will struggle to match the sort of income these ventures enjoyed pre-Covid-19. Future survival therefore depends on a return to something akin to normality as soon as it is safe to do so.

In that regard we should also spare a thought for those other businesses that are likely to be missing out significantly from the lockdown.

The ban on travel, and the continued reluctance of people to travel when that ban is eased or lifted, has removed lots of visitors from the town.

READ MORE: How Helensburgh's pubs, restaurants and cafes got ready for the big indoor re-opening

This is when Argyll and Bute Council needs to step forward with some lateral thinking: to change their stance on restricting parking for tour buses, and perhaps to grant permissions for smaller shops to erect a gazebo or other canopy-style covering outside their shops for people to shelter in while waiting for their turn in inclement weather.

Helensburgh has many smaller B&Bs who will have seen bookings evaporate, and who will find great difficulty in making their accommodation compliant with any social distancing needs.

Were these facilities to disappear in significant numbers, it would have a longer term effect on overall visitor levels, and that will have a knock-on impact for our retail and restaurant businesses too.

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