THAT a public health crisis should throw into sharp relief the country's class divide is no surprise.

Years of austerity, crippling changes to the welfare state and an ever burdened NHS have already ensured the gap between the working and middle classes was a chasm.

Catastrophe was hardly going to ease the day to day hardship of those who already struggle.

We've seen it quite plainly as those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home stay ensconced in the relative safety of our houses while those in lower paid occupations have been put at risk by the expectation they would still work, or by their need to still work.

This was a driving part of the fury at former chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood when she was caught travelling between her city base and her country home. The overriding narrative was that we're all in this together yet, plainly, some are a lot more in it than others.

Some of us have first and second homes to sneak between while others haven't even a private strip of garden to use for daily exercise. Instead of two properties, they try to carve out a little time and space in shared parks while police vans patrol against lingering or sitting.

As Boris Johnson's pre-recorded speech aired on Sunday night, the nation's frowns deepened with bafflement as to what exactly the easing of lockdown restrictions are to mean in practice.

The practicalities of England's next steps seem open to interpretation in practical terms but their ideological basis is straightforward enough. The Westminster government is clearly and without shame prioritising the economy over wellbeing.

Estate agents are to reopen to have the housing market moving again. Cue ample jokes about putting one's house on the market as an excuse to invite your much missed relatives round.

Cleaners and childminders are permitted to go back to work. Cue confusion as to why childminders might visit a home but grandparents cannot. No one was making jokes about asking their mum round to do their dishes but Wednesday's Twitter feeds were heaving with claim and counter-claim of sexism as heavyweight English newspaper columnists went head to head over the thorny issue of cleaners.

It's interesting that the idea of middle class people risking the health of cleaners became a stooshie while there's been no such baulking at the re-opening of coffee shops.

One can vacuum one's own floors in the same way that one can boil one's own kettle yet there was no day-long outrage about the middle classes forcing baristas to churn out flat whites. Women, of course, are expected to clean up after themselves and their families, making a cleaner a badge of shame.

There's no such gendered expectation on a cappuccino.

But the problem, of course, isn't simply having a child minder or cleaner come in to your home, the problem is not only the job itself, it's the getting to the job.

Mr Johnson said that those who can't work from home should now return but avoid public transport. "If possible do so by car," he said, "Or even better by walking or bicycle."

The notion that people will be free to choose is so staggeringly ignorant of reality. Staff work to shift patterns, their working hours are rarely optional. For many, public transport at set times is the only option. Even if they have a car, we've rightly designed city parking to be prohibitively expensive for daily commuting.

The class divide has shaped our experience of living with the virus and the class divide is also shaping our outcomes when in contact with the virus.

On Wednesday, National Records of Scotland (NRS) published analysis showing those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland are more than twice as likely to die from coronavirus as those living in the wealthiest parts.

Again, while this figure is appalling stark, it is little surprising. The people who are least likely to be able to work from home are those more likely to be in our less economically advantaged areas, leaving them more exposed to catching the virus.

They are less likely to own cars and are again exposed on public transport. Those in disadvantaged areas have higher rates of chronic ill health and, as has also been shown by analysis of the death rates, some 90 per cent of those who do not survive Covid-19 have underlying health conditions.

In the devolved nations lockdown messaging and lockdown decisions have been far clearer. We are still very much being told to stay at home. From the beginning, the message in Scotland, particularly, was focused on prioritising health over the state of the economy.

The existing inequalities, however, have been enough that the working classes have still borne the brunt of the virus.

When it comes to the effects of poverty, there is still a tension between personal choice and the intervention of the state. We've seen that in the public debates around everything from the smoking ban, to minimum alcohol pricing and the so-called sugar tax.

While there is an acknowledgement that people are forced into certain choices by their circumstances there is still a widespread lack of empathetic understanding for this.

The former Glasgow Labour MP Paul Sweeney has spoken openly this week about being unemployed for the first time since the age of 14 and having to sign on for Universal Credit. While there has been sympathy towards Mr Sweeney, there has also been mockery of him.

There is still stigma attached to the benefits system, despite the fact that the welfare state is currently propping up the country and a vast number of people who will have never previously thought they would need to use this support are reliant on it.

Scotland will soon be moving to ease its lockdown measures and we too will be encouraged back to work. This can't, as in England, be allowed to serve the middle classes while leaving those from less advantaged areas shouldering yet more of the burden of this crisis.

The chances of surviving the pandemic cannot be dependent on economic power or social class.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.