Coronavirus in Scotland: Stay at home message remains as exercise rules ease

UK

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Media captionFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the advice in Scotland remains “stay at home”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stressed the “stay at home” message remains in place in Scotland after Boris Johnson announced his “conditional plan” to reopen society.

During his statement, the prime minister urged people to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives”.

But Ms Sturgeon said there should be a “simpler” message and that people in Scotland should still stay at home.

The once-a-day exercise limit will be removed in Scotland from Monday.

But Ms Sturgeon said people must still stay close to home and emphasised the move does not extend to picnics, sunbathing or barbeques.

During his address on Sunday evening, Mr Johnson said people in England who could not work from home should return to the workplace – but avoid public transport.

The first minister stressed that the advice to businesses in Scotland had not changed.

“I am not, at this stage, asking anybody who is not working to go back to work, although we have said we are looking, with priority, at the construction sector, the retail sector and the manufacturing sector,” she told BBC Scotland.

Image copyright Andrew Parsons / 10 Downing Stre

She said different parts of the UK were at different stages of the infection curve, and that the “all-important R number” was thought to be higher north of the border.

Ms Sturgeon also said the prime minister should have stressed “more strongly” that most of the changes he referred to in his speech applied to England.

“When he talks about things like border control, he is talking for the whole UK, but really all of us have a duty right now to be as clear as possible and, having watched the prime minister, I think there is still some room for some simpler messages,” she said.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government was being “deliberately cautious” and was taking “baby steps”.

And she added: “If you change the message from stay at home to something vaguer then you don’t give clear messages to the public.”

We are now getting two quite different messages as a result of the announcement by the prime minister and the response from the first minister.

Businesses deciding whether to go back to work in construction or manufacturing are being encouraged to do so south of the border. However, you’re being pretty strongly discouraged if it’s not essential work north of the border.

That’s going to lead to employers having different expectations of their staff depending on where that employer is based.

Employers are looking for answers about how much money will be available and for how long.

The furlough system has been absolutely essential to avoiding redundancies soaring. In Scotland, around 370,000 jobs are estimated to have stayed on the payroll rather than becoming redundant.

So what’s going to happen to that once the money stops as it is currently scheduled to do at the end of June?

The first minister had earlier said that she had first learned about the UK government’s new slogan in the Sunday papers and admitted: “I do not know what ‘Stay Alert’ means.”

Ms Sturgeon accepted the need for other parts of the UK to move at different speeds, based on scientific evidence and said she is committed to the closest possible cooperation.

But she added: “We should not be reading of each other’s plans for the first time in newspapers and decisions that are taken for one nation only, for good evidence based reasons, should not be presented as if they apply UK-wide.

“Clarity of message is paramount if we expect all of you to know what we are asking of you and as leaders we have a duty to deliver that clarity to those that we are accountable to, not to confuse it.

“To that end I have asked the UK government not to deploy their ‘stay alert’ advertising campaign in Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon added that the message in Scotland is not “stay at home if you can” but rather “stay at home full stop”.

She was speaking after latest figures show the number of deaths has increased by 10 to 1,587, while the number of positive cases is now 13,486.

The first minister said the new guidelines governing exercise in Scotland were not a “licence to meet up in groups” at parks or beaches.

She also emphasised the ongoing need for people to maintain social distancing and not mix with other households.

Guidelines concerning the range of outdoor activities, reopening garden centres and the resumption of some outdoor work will also be considered in the coming days.

The Scottish government will also be speaking to councils about the prospect of re-opening waste and recycling centres.

The first minister said an update on these developments will be issued next weekend.

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