IT’S only October and Christmas is still a long way off. But it’s not if you’re a supplier, where preparations need made. Shopping is also going to be different this year, with many folk reluctant to head to city centres or enter the big stores. Buying locally will increase, as will online.

But at the same time, many community events may also be restricted. Church bazaars and other gatherings may well be abandoned and yet were part of the calendar for many. That’s where I got wrapping paper and handmade gifts for the family.

Those events weren’t just joyous occasions but beneficial to local producers and artisans. East Lothian abounds with the latter. Perfect for presents, you’d think, and often better and cheaper than big store products. It would be a win-win situation for the county if folk shopped and purchased locally.

So how do we connect the local produce with a willing public? Many public buildings have required to close as a result of restrictions. The holding of events has been likewise. That I fully understand and those operating them were obliged to do so.

Surely, though, there are still things that can be done with a bit of preparation and we’ve still got weeks to get ready. Tight regulation will be required, guidance followed, and social distancing applied. But as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Limited venues could be opened operating as above. The expertise exists here in the hospitality sector, the products are available and folk reluctant to head to the city or shopping centres might feel safe there.

Maybe it won’t be possible and public health must remain the priority. But surely it can be considered. Online events can be prepared as a backstop. Similarly, as unemployment rises, advising of local seasonal work must also be done. Everything from packers to delivery drivers will be required.

We’re going to have to do much more locally and need to support each other. That includes employment and shopping.