This time, however, it can turn out to be a decisive fork in the road.
England is embarking on a high stakes bet e that it has vaccinated enough of its adult population to be able to fully open its economy, even if that means withstanding a huge new wave of infections. Scotland, with a comparable level of vaccination, is not yet ready to get rid of its last protections.ns.
"To speak of tomorrow as 'Freedom Day' does not make sense", Mrs Sturgeon, who is prime minister and leader of the National Party Scottish, said Monday ahead of England's big easing. The phrase, she said pointedly, applied to England, not Scotland. Image Dancing in a nightclub in London in the early hours of Monday, right after lifting most restrictions in England. Credit ... Alberto Pezzali / Associated Press
The differences between the responses of Scotland and of England to the pandemic, experts note, are often more tone than substantive. On major policiesAs with containments and vaccines, the two have generally been aligned. And judged by measures such as cases and deaths, their performance has not been that different.
Nevertheless, in a relationship in which so many things are refracted through the prism of Scottish nationalism , Ms Sturgeon's conservative stance could pay off politically, especially if Mr Johnson's experience backfires.
"If things go wrong, shaped and Scotland finds itself in a better position, expect members of the independence movement to have something to say about it, "said John Curtice, polling expert at the University of Strathclyde.
Pandemic policy, he noted, can be inconstant. Last July, when cases and deaths in Scotland reduced to a trickle as England was ravaged, support for independence soared to 55% as people concluded that Scotland might do better on its own.
But during the winter, as Scotland faced a new wave of snowfall infections and the UK government securing vaccines and distributing them aggressively across the UK, enthusiasm for independence has waned.
As Scotland now recovers from a new epidemic, polls show support for independence has fallen below 50%. This is about where it was in 2014, when the Scots voted against leaving the UK. I am old Scottish independence supporters gathered in George Square in Glasgow in May. Credit ... Andrew Testa for Hfrance.fr
Although the Scottish National Party retained control of the country's Parliament in recent elections , he lacked a seat a clear majority , cutting off the wind to the movement. Ms Sturgeon has signaled that she wants to overcome the pandemic before pushing for a second referendum.
The vibe in Edinburgh, which is gearing up for its annual arts festival next month is more subdued than in liberated London. As the festival continues, the number of shows indirect has been reduced, or put online, due to social distancing requirements.
Tourists, many of them from other parts of Great Britain, filled tables this week outside pubs and restaurants near Edinburgh's Royal Mile. But pub owners say restrictions, especially on face masks and midnight closures, prevent them from rebuilding their businesses.
"Nothing justifies that we are different from England, "said Nic Wood, owner of 22 pubs in Edinburgh and other cities. . "England is challenging him head on, while Scotland is still retreating.
Scottish authorities have been alarmed by a sudden increase in cases in June, when the highly transmissible Delta variant spread across the country. There are a variety of theories onreasons he's been so prolific - including that thousands of fans from Scotland's national football team traveled to London for a game against England and brought the variant back with them.
Scotland, according to experts, also had an initially slower vaccine rollout than England and a lower antibody level in its population , which could have played a role. As cases started to drop again, the epidemic shattered the illusion that Scotland was different from its neighbor to the south. Image The leader of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in the center, in Edinburgh in June. "Talking about tomorrow as 'freedom day ' doesn't make sense, " she said ahead of England 's great easing on Monday. Credit ... Jeff J Mitchell / Agence France-Presse - Images
In total, England has reported a rate of 8,597 cases and 202 deaths per 100,000 people. Scotland, with a smaller population and more dispersed, faring slightly better, with 6,114 cases and 144 hs deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
"Covid has been a double weapon cutting edge for government, "said Ian Murray, who is the only UK Labor member of the Scottish Parliament and opposes independence." Most Scots are indy-curious, hate government conservative and believe Scotland has no power. "
" Now "said Mr Murray, " they see that Scotland has real power and that the UK works pretty well in a crisis. "
This latter point is open to debate, given the volatile nature of Mr Johnson's response to the pandemic. But it is true that Scotland's handling of the crisis has exposed its strengths and weaknesses in a way that was less clear before.
In the UK, the Scottish authorities are responsible for matters such as health and education, while the UK Parliament deals with immigration, foreign policy and most importantly, at a time like this, fiscal policy.
This arrangement has led to tensions over issues large and small. Scottish officials protested when the London North Eastern Railway removed social distancing requirements from its trains, even after they entered Scotland.
Scotland's chief medical officer wrote to UK authorities this week urging them to rethinklimiting immunizations of young people aged 12 to 18 to those with underlying health problems. The British claimed that because adolescents are resilient to Covid, there was little benefit to vaccinating them.
But the school year in Scotland is starting earlier than England, and the public - health experts have said they fear returning unvaccinated children to classrooms is a recipe for new infections. Image A walk-in Covid vaccination bus in Edinburgh this month. Credit ... Andrew Milligan / PA Images, via Images
"I worries me the most forschools, ”said Devi Sridhar, head of global public health. program at the University of Edinburgh. "What do we do with the children? Do we let them all get it? "
Professor Sridhar, who is advising the Scottish government, acknowledges that his handling of the pandemic It has not been without setbacks. Last summer, when cases and deaths fell to a handful, Scotland aspired to a zero Covid strategy like New Zealand's. worked, she said, in part because England failed to take similar action.
Now, however, epidemiologists say Scotland may be close to the threshold for herd immunity, given the percentage of people vaccinated and those with natural antibodies.
" I have never been comfortable with the emphasis on Freedom DaySaid Mark Woolhouse, professor of epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. "If a moderate amount of mask wearing a And other mitigation measures allow us to exceed the herd immunity threshold, then why not do it?