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‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’ – Robert Jenrick scrambles to explain new ‘vague’ coronavirus slogan

Communities Minister Robert Jenrick appeared on Sophy Ridge today, Sunday May 10, to explain the government's new coronavirus slogan. Picture: Sophy Ridge on Sunday - Credit: Archant

Communities minister Robert Jenrick has attempted to explain the meaning behind the government’s new coronavirus slogan, as critics have roundly attacked the message.

The new government ‘stay alert’ slogan. Photograph: Downing Street/Twitter. – Credit: Archant

‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’ has replaced the previous slogan of ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’, in an update which presenter Sophy Ridge called ‘so vague, it’s bordering on being meaningless’.

Jenrick responded by justifying the update, arguing that a ‘broader’ message is required because ‘we’re now past the peak’.

He then outlined the definition of ‘stay alert’, which to the trained eye contained most of the criteria required by the previous messaging, such as adhering to social distancing and strict hygiene, alongside the all-encompassing ‘respecting others’.

The apparent lack of difference in substance between the old and new messaging led the presenter to label the advice as ‘wooly’, making the point that a person can be alert ‘anywhere’: ‘You can stay alert whilst staying at home, you can stay alert and go to work, you can stay alert while having 20 of your friends over for a party.’

Jenrick refused to be drawn on the specifics of any possible easing of lockdown, leaving that job to prime minister Boris Johnson, who is expected to outline the practical changes at tonight’s daily briefing.

He did clarify, however, that staying at home will remain ‘an important part of the message’, despite no longer featuring on the official slogan.

Countering this, Ridge argued that the stay at home message really ought to be ditched entirely, given the degree to which people have broken lockdown over the past few days of hot weather.

The communities minister didn’t address the overwhelming evidence that this message is no longer as effective as it once was, choosing to assert that ‘the vast majority of the public are being responsible’.