Mon, 4 December 2023

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Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland will not use Boris Johnson’s ‘vague and imprecise’ new ‘Stay Alert’ lockdown slogan

4 min read

Scotland will not use a new slogan designed to replace the UK Government’s ‘Stay At Home’ message on the coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The country’s First Minister hit out what she called the “vague and imprecise” new phrasing which urges Brits to ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’.

The message is set to be unveiled in major speech from Boris Johnson on the future of lockdown measures on Sunday evening.

But, speaking as Number 10 sought to clarify the wording, Ms Sturgeon made clear she would be diverting significantly from the new advice.

She said: "I don't know what 'stay alert' means."

And the First Minister told reporters at her daily press briefing: “For Scotland right now, given the fragility of the progress we've made, given the critical point that we are at, then it would be catastrophic for me to drop the 'stay at home' message.

"I am particularly not prepared to do it in favour of a message that is vague and imprecise."

The SNP leader added: "Clarity of message is paramount if we expect all of you to know what we are asking of you.

"And as leaders we have a duty to deliver that clarity to those that we are accountable to, not to confuse it.

"To that end I have asked the UK government not to deploy their 'stay alert' advertising campaign in Scotland."

The new slogan aims to replace the Government’s long-running call for the British public to ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’.

It is expected to come alongside minor changes to the current lockdown measures, including tweaks to the guidance on exercise and a push for garden centres to reopen, when the PM delivers his promised “roadmap” for how the restrictions might be eased.

But the slogan has already come under fire from Labour amid claims it is less clear than the previous guidance.

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told Sky News: “We need absolute clarity from Boris Johnson. There is no room for nuance in this, this virus exploits ambivalence, it thrives on ambiguity and I think the problem with the briefing to newspapers is that people will be looking at it slightly puzzled, questioning what does it mean to stay alert, what are the government saying with that?”

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has meanwhile confirmed that Wales will not be ditching the ‘Stay at Home’ message.

He said: “Being alert is important but staying at home has not gone away… the message that I will be giving to people in Wales is while they must be alert to the continuing danger of coronavirus, if you are not out of your house for an essential purpose… staying at home remains the best way you can protect yourself and others.”


As calls for clarity on the new advice grew, Number 10 issued a statement on Sunday lunchtime seeking to flesh out each of its elements.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “We can help control the virus if we all Stay Alert:

“Stay Alert by staying at home as much as possible.

“Stay Alert by working from home if you can

“Stay Alert by limiting contact with other people.

“Stay Alert by keeping distance if you go out. (2 metres apart where possible).

“Stay Alert by washing your hands regularly.

"And if you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you all need to self-isolate.”

On the ‘control the virus’ section of the new message, Downing Street said: “We can control the virus by keeping the rate of infection (R) and the number of infections down.

"This is how we can continue to save lives and livelihoods as we start to recover from Coronavirus.

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping the rate of infection (R) down by staying alert and following the rules."

As well as the new phrase, Mr Johnson is expected to use his 7pm statement to launch a new five-tier warning system for tracking the spread of the virus.

The system, which will be managed by the newly created 'Joint Biosecurity Center', will monitor the spread of the infection across the country, grading the outbreak from green at level one to red at level five.

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