Boris’ ‘stay alert’ message ‘vague’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

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Boris Johnson’s plans to drop the public ‘stay at home’ message in place of ‘stay alert,’ has been criticised by Scotland’s First Minister this afternoon.

Nicola Sturgeon told a media briefing that she did not know what ‘stay alert’ meant and that it did not apply to Scotland, where ‘stay at home’ remains the advice because of the ‘fragility’ of the coronavirus.

She has also asked that a UK Government advertising campaign with the message should not be broadcast in Scotland, it emerged, with public relations teams of both governments in talks over the issue today.

It follows reports that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will drop stay at home in favour of stay alert in a televised speech tonight.

Mrs Sturgeon said it was reasonable for the leaders of the four nations to make decisions based on the evidence in their countries.

But she added that a message of stay alert could be confusing to people.

She told reporters: ‘I don’t know what stay alert means. Presumably, we all live our lives, in normal times, staying alert to danger.

‘If I said to you now that my message is stay alert, and you say to me ‘does that mean I stay at home or not?’ I can’t give you a straight answer to that.

‘Therefore I would be failing in my duty to be clear in terms of what I am asking you to do.

‘That’s why stay at home is important in Scotland right now and it’s why I am going to continue for as long, but not any longer, than I think it is necessary, to ask you to follow that advice.’

It appears Mr Johnson failed to properly consult with other leaders of the Home Nations.

Mrs Sturgeon suggested she had been left to read about the change of tack in a national newspaper, which she called not ‘helpful or sensible’.

Information about what people could, or could not do, was ‘critical’ to their safety, she added, saying it was an issue of ‘life and death’, not politics.

‘For Scotland right now, given the fragility of the progress we have made, given the critical point that we are at would be catastrophic for me to drop the stay at home message, that’s why I am not prepared to do it,’ she said.

Of Mr Johnson, she added: ‘He has to be clear with people that some of what he is saying applies to England, not to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

‘There will be other things that he says, around border control for example, that applies for the whole of the UK. There’s a responsibility on all of us to be clear in our messaging and the applicability of that messaging.’

She said it was difficult if decisions were being taken which, even ‘inadvertently’ were presented as ‘UK wide when they are not’.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has decided to drop the ‘once-a-day’ exercise restriction.