UK Government says broader message needed on coronavirus

Reactions have been mixed to the new slogan 'stay alert, control the virus, save lives' ahead of Boris Johnson speech.

UK Government says broader message needed on coronavirus

UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says he hopes the UK Government’s new public message on the coronavirus outbreak is ‘not too woolly’.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday progrmme, Jenrick said a “broader” slogan is needed to restart the economy, adding the time is right to “update and broaden” the message to the public.

“I think that’s what the public want and that they will be able to understand this message, which is that we should be staying home as much as possible but when we do go to work and go about our business we need to remain vigilant, we need to stay alert,” he continued.

“And that means things like respecting others, remaining two meters apart, washing your hands, following the social distancing guidelines because the virus continues to be prevalent, too many people are still dying of this and we’re going to have to live with it for a long time.”

Pressed if there is a danger the message is too woolly, Mr Jenrick said: “Well I hope not.

“We need to have a broader message because we want to slowly and cautiously restart the economy and the country.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a coronavirus warning system when he outlines his plans to gradually ease the lockdown in a speech to the nation on Sunday evening.

He is set to outline his “road map” to a new normality, which will no longer feature the “stay at home” slogan.

After the successful bluntness of the shutdown message of “stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS”, people are now set to be asked to “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland would not be adopting “the PM’s new slogan” and that she would continue to use the “stay home” message.

She tweeted: “The Sunday papers is the first I’ve seen of the PM’s new slogan.

“It is of course for him to decide what’s most appropriate for England, but given the critical point we are at in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives remains my clear message to Scotland at this stage.”

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch urged “maximum caution” on the next steps in the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Sunday, Mr Leitch reiterated the instructions of the Scottish Government for people to stay at home.

Mr Leitch also said he and other Scottish Government officials had not seen the new slogan, nor did they know what the Prime Minister would announce on Sunday.

He added: “The First Minister and I, earlier in the week at one of our press briefings, made it very clear that we think, certainly in Scotland, it is too early to think about any major changes.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has said any changes made to the region’s lockdown measures following Mr Johnson’s announcement will be nuanced.

And Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford told Sophy Ridge On Sunday that the stay-home message had “not gone away”.

“The message I will be giving to people in Wales is while they must be alert to the continuing danger of coronavirus, if you’re not out of your house for an essential purpose – and that does include exercise, it can include shopping and it must include going to work for people who can safely do so – staying at home remains the best way that you can protect yourself and others,” Mr Drakeford said.

The UK Government’s new slogan has drawn a lot of scorn, and a certain amount of praise.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said: “The messaging from this Government throughout this crisis has been a total joke, but their new slogan takes it to a new level.”