Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said she has “no idea” what “stay alert” means, referencing the change in the UK Government’s messaging over the coronavirus lockdown.
Reports emerged on Sunday of a change to the UK Government’s message over the lockdown, ahead of the Prime Minister laying out a “road map” to a new normality.
The previous slogan, “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” was replaced with the new “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.
In a tweet on Sunday morning, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stuck to previous guidance, urging people to stay at home.
The First Minister said the first she had been made aware of the change was through Sunday newspapers, adding that messaging from the Scottish Government would not change.
Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Scotland on Sunday, Ms Freeman said the Scottish Government was not consulted on the change.
She said: “That is not a change that we would agree with.
“I think the First Minister was really clear last week that the ‘stay at home’ message was the right message and if I’m perfectly frank, I have no idea what ‘stay alert’ actually means.”
Ms Freeman went on to say that the population will be “at a disadvantage” when adhering to the guidance if communications from the Government are not clear.
She added: “We’re asking the public to do a very great deal here and the least we can do is be consistent and clear in the message that we’re sending and ‘stay at home’ is the right message.”
Earlier on Sunday, during an appearance on BBC Breakfast, national clinical director Jason Leitch said the Scottish Government had not been made aware of the slogan, nor had it been informed of what the Prime Minister would announce on Sunday evening.
He also urged “maximum caution” when considering the next steps of the lockdown.
Meanwhile, Ms Freeman has been criticised after admitting she had not seen new care home guidance published on the Scottish Government website on Saturday.
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon added: “Care homes are at the epicentre of the crisis.
“Jeane Freeman’s admission that she hasn’t seen the latest care home guidance issued by her own government is astonishing.
“We can’t have a situation where the BBC knows more about government policy during a national crisis than the Health Secretary does.”
She also drew criticism after it was revealed the guidance was published by mistake.
Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said, “This is another embarrassing mistake for Jeanne Freeman.
“The Scottish Government has repeatedly dropped the ball with regards to infection control and testing at care homes.
“Everyone working in care homes needs certainty and instead they have guidance that is published only to vanish soon after.
“This level of confusion and incompetence from SNP Ministers is totally unacceptable and could be putting vulnerable people at risk.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The draft updated guidance to care homes has not yet been finalised and was issued on the website prematurely. It will be finalised in the coming days.
“However, in large part, the aim of the update will be to restate the position we’ve set out a number of times on testing and supporting residents.
“We have been clear – the draft guidance is clear – people who were Covid-19 patients in hospital should have two negative tests before being discharged to a care home, and risk assessments and isolations measures must be put in place.”