'Keep distance': New coronavirus slogan to run alongside 'Stay Alert'

Gordon Rayner
The Government has been criticised for the vagueness of the 'Stay Alert' message - AP
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The Government has begun using a new slogan in its coronavirus response following criticism that its "Stay Alert" message was too vague.

It is advising the public to "Keep our distance, wash our hands, think of others and play our part. All together".

Advertisements bearing the new message started appearing yesterday, together with an image of a rainbow, which has come to represent the public's gratitude to NHS and care workers during the crisis.

The new slogan, released without fanfare, was described by government sources as part of a wider public information campaign around the "Stay Alert" message, which replaced the more direct "Stay Home" message.

The most recent mantra appears against an amber background, a colour recognised as meaning caution because of its use in traffic lights. Questions had been raised about why the red border around the "Stay Home" message - clearly indicating danger - had been replaced with a green border for Stay Alert.

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Opinion polls have shown that only a third of the public claim to understand what "Stay Alert" means.

On May 10, the highly effective "Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives" message was replaced with "Stay Alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives".

On the same day, Boris Johnson announced the easing of some lockdown measures by allowing people more freedom to roam outside, play sports and return to work.

While 91 per cent of people said they were clear on what "Stay Home" meant, just 30 per cent of people surveyed the day after "Stay Alert" was introduced said they knew what it meant.

It left the Prime Minister appealing to "good British common sense" when it came to people deciding what they should and should not do under the new rules.