Coronavirus: Sturgeon reinforces stay at home message after Johnson statement

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

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stressed that the “stay at home” message remains in place in Scotland after Boris Johnson unveiled his plans for easing the lockdown.

The prime minister said people in England who cannot work from home should be “actively encouraged” to return to their jobs from Monday.

He also urged people to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives”.

Ms Sturgeon said the message remained for people in Scotland to stay at home.

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

She had earlier announced that the once-a-day exercise limit will be removed in Scotland from Monday.

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

The first minister said the Sunday papers had been the first place she had seen the UK government’s new slogan 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.

‘Mixed messages’

The first minister said the R number “may be higher” in Scotland, where the first positive case was confirmed on 1 March, than other parts of the UK.

But she said “real progress” has been made in recent weeks and cautioned against easing restrictions too soon or sending out “mixed messages”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Let me be very blunt about the consequences if we were to do that. People will die unnecessarily and instead of being able to loosen restrictions, hopefully in the near future, we will be faced instead with having to tighten them.

“We must not take that risk.”

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

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

Ms Sturgeon said the move will bring “health and wellbeing benefits”, especially to those who live in flats and children.

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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