Number 10 defends new 'Keep life moving' COVID slogan

Members of the public pass a London Borough of Hounslow Covid-19 public information display urging residents to take precautions to minimise the spread of the coronavirus amid rising concern regarding the Delta variant on 17th July 2021 in Hounslow, United Kingdom. The UK government is currently still expected to lift almost all restrictions on social contact on 19th July, known as 'Freedom Day', but the current wave driven by the Delta variant is not expected to peak until mid-August. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
The government is reportedly set to drop its 'hands, face, space' slogan. (Getty Images)

Downing Street has defended the government's new coronavirus slogan “keep life moving” after it was criticised by the leader of the Labour Party.

The Times previously said a new advertising campaign will be unveiled this week with the strapline.

The “hands, face, space” mantra will be replaced with “Let’s keep life moving”.

The print and broadcast adverts will focus on ventilation and testing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and encourage people to continue to be cautious even though England lifted almost all of its coronavirus restrictions this week.

Watch: What is the 'pingdemic' and do people alerted by COVID app have to isolate?

The prime minister’s official spokesman said it was a “marketing phrase” being used by the Department of Health and Social Care.

He said: “As you’ve seen throughout the steps, we’ve had marketing campaigns materials in line with the latest guidance, so it’s simply going to be used in that.

“It emphasises the need to continue to progress cautiously as we come out into this next step.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the new slogan.

“You couldn’t make it up,” he said.

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday July 21, 2021.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the new 'keep life moving' COVID slogan during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday. (PA)

“Isn’t it clear there’s only three words this prime minister needs to focus on: get a grip.”

Johnson defended his record and claimed Sir Keir wanted “some sort of perpetual lockdown”.

He said: “I’ll give him a three-word slogan. It’s ‘get a jab’. What we’re also doing is to help people get a job.

“We’re turning jabs, jabs, jabs into jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The new "keep life moving" slogan is to be introduced even though hundreds of thousands of people have been told to self-isolate as part of the so-called "pingdemic".

More than 500,000 people in England and Wales were notified by the NHS COVID-19 app to self-isolate in the week up to 1 July after being deemed to have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

It means many small businesses have been forced to close and larger companies have also been affected – pub chain Greene King shut 33 pubs in the last week and PureGym said up to 25% of staff are isolating in some areas.

Downing Street was forced into an embarrassing position on Monday after junior business minister Paul Scully suggested people shouldn’t automatically self-isolate after being pinged by the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app.

Number 10 slapped down his comments, saying it was “crucial” to self-isolate when told and that businesses should be supporting employees to do so.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.

“Given the risk of having and spreading the virus when people have been in contact with someone with COVID, it is crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS COVID app.”

A poll by YouGov revealed on Monday that only one in five Britons have the app and are using it correctly.

A third of Britons have had it and abused it, while 40% have never downloaded it, according to the survey of more than 1,700 adults.

There is no legal requirement to self-isolate when pinged by the app, as opposed to testing positive for coronavirus or being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

The self-isolation rules will remain in place until 16 August, after which people who have had both vaccine jabs will not have to quarantine if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

Watch: Junior business minister says people should make 'informed decision' if pinged