New 'stay alert' coronavirus slogan criticised ahead of PM's speech

10 May 2020, 11:49

Critics have hit out at the messaging ahead of the Prime Minister's announcement
Critics have hit out at the messaging ahead of the Prime Minister's announcement. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson's new "stay alert" coronavirus slogan has faced criticism for dropping the "stay at home" message which has been a key part of the Governments campaign.

The Prime Minister is expected to unveil a coronavirus warning system when he outlines his plans to gradually ease the lockdown while dropping the previous slogan.

Leaked on Saturday night the new slogan "stay alert, control the virus, save lives" will replace the previous message from the Government which advised Brits to "stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS."

Read more: Boris Johnson to reveal five-stage warning scheme ahead of easing restrictions

Downing Street has sought to explain the meaning of the new "stay alert" and "control the virus" messages being introduced by Boris Johnson.

A No 10 spokesman said the public can stay alert by "staying at home as much as possible", "limiting contact with other people" and keeping two metres apart where possible.

"We can control the virus by keeping the rate of infection (R) and the number of infections down," the spokesman said.

"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."

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

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."

Liberal Democrats acting leader Sir Ed Davey has called for the Government to "publish the evidence" it has used to inform its new "stay alert" slogan.

He added: "Changing the slogan now, while in practice keeping the lockdown in place, makes the police's job near impossible and may cause considerable alarm. Ministers risk sowing confusion and losing public trust with this muddled communications strategy and lack of transparency.

"It's not clear why the Prime Minister has made this decision."

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "I think the problem with the slogan that has been briefed to some newspapers is that people will looking at it slightly puzzled, questioning what does it mean to stay alert and what are the government saying with that."

He also criticised selective briefings about the new message ahead of the Prime Minister's address to the nation on Sunday evening, saying it had confused the public.

"I think some of those briefings to newspapers has led to the situation yesterday and on Friday of lots of people going to parks, enjoying the sunshine."

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."

He wondered: "Stay alert? It's a deadly virus not a zebra crossing."