‘If you need 8 tweets to explain #StayAlert then it probably isn’t clear enough’: No 10 mocked over ‘meaningless’ Twitter thread

Government's new 'stay alert, control the virus, save lives' message spreads confusion and draws criticism

Kate Ng
Monday 11 May 2020 15:23 BST
Robert Jenrick offers explanation as to what 'stay alert' means

A Twitter thread posted by the prime minister’s office elaborating on the government’s new ‘Stay Alert’ messaging has received fierce criticism from members of the public.

No 10 Downing Street’s official Twitter account posted eight tweets repeating guidance outlined by Boris Johnson during his coronavirus lockdown speech on Sunday evening.

The message for the UK public to ‘Stay Alert’ instead of ‘Stay Home’ was introduced over the weekend, just before Mr Johnson set out limited relaxations of lockdown rules. His speech was met with confusion, while the new message has been called “catastrophic” by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

No 10 tweeted: “We can all 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 your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible). Stay alert by washing your hands regularly. If you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you all need to self-isolate.

“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. Stay alert, control the virus, save lives.”

The thread, which contains advice that was applicable before yesterday’s announcement, has been met with derision and sarcasm, as people criticised it as “meaningless” and “terrible”.

One person said: “Quite honestly how is the office of the PM supposed to be taken seriously with drivel like this being posted. This is meaningless wittering.”

“If you need 8 tweets to explain #StayAlert then it probably isn’t clear enough,” pointed out another.

A YouGov poll found that less than a third of people say they understand the government’s new message and 91 per cent of them say the previous slogan “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” was clearer and more effective.

The survey, carried out for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, also said 44 per cent of voters backed the moves to partially ease restrictions while 43 per cent opposed them.

The chairman of the British Medical Association told BBC Breakfast he does not know on “what basis” the government made its decision to change the message and relax lockdown restrictions.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “At the moment we have more people dying on Saturday than we had at the beginning of the lockdown. We’ve also seen about 4,000 new cases every day over the weekend, and that’s just a fraction of the real number of new cases because of limited testing so there’s a considerable amount of community circulation of the virus going on.”

He added that he was concerned there “is no clarity” on how the government plans to enforce social distancing while allowing people to go outdoors more and play sports, or go back to work.

It comes as devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all chosen to stick with the previous message, and have said they will “continue to make decisions” which are right for them.

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