“IN THE midst of difficulty lies opportunity”― – Albert Einstein.

In this first week of the new five-tier system, authorities seem to disagree on appropriate measures to cope with Covid-19. What they do agree on is that we are all in this for the long haul.

Before you feel this stretches your already overstretched patience even further, consider how the above quote applies to our fortunate county.

This pandemic has changed our lives permanently, even if it disappeared tomorrow. Our shopping, working and leisure habits have accelerated in a year what might have taken a decade of gradual change.

Many businesses will disappear; many more will alter greatly.

The question we should be asking is this: How can East Lothian best adapt to – and even prosper from – this new reality?

Most of our commuters have been working from home, at least part-time.

The resulting reduction in demand for office space in Edinburgh will become permanent, with related drop in demand for pubs, food, services, etc. We should therefore anticipate local demand for:

  • Serviced office space for meetings and shared/part-time offices;
  • Renewal of local high streets that provide an attractive pedestrian social mixing environment;
  • Social meeting spaces in those high streets: upmarket cafes, clubs, pubs, gyms, restaurants;
  • Increased demand for housing as city centre living becomes less desirable;
  • Reduction in need for council administration staff as meetings and public interactions move on-line;
  • Distance learning, with schools each focusing on languages and specialised subjects;
  • Boom in use of local sports clubs/courts/pitches/gyms from those staying more at home;
  • Increased demand for craftsmen and women (plumbers, joiners, etc) and their workshops.

Despite this, our link with Edinburgh may strengthen. While many people chafe at the limitations of video conferencing service Zoom and long for face-to-face interaction, these new practices have minimised the need for travel to meetings.

It has also dragged older generations into what millennials already practice: frequent online interaction, with meeting up being for social and cultural outings.

Given limited cultural offerings across the county, Edinburgh will remain our cultural hub.

As City of Edinburgh Council is hostile to car use, further improvement to public transport frequency and easier bus/train interchange will become the preferred alternative.

This also allows city-dwellers easier access to our attractions and hospitality.

Working from home means overcrowding in either direction will spread throughout the week.

We may be on the way to becoming ‘Baby Zoomers’ with an even better quality of life.