‘Stay at home’ messaging has not changed in Wales, ministers say

The “stay home” message has not changed in Wales and remains the best way to protect people from coronavirus, First Minister Mark Drakeford said.

Reports emerged on Sunday of a change to the UK Government’s message over lockdown, with the slogan “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” replaced with “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lay out a “road map” of how England may ease the current restrictions during an address from Downing Street on Sunday evening.

In an interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Drakeford stressed that the stay-home slogan had not “gone away” in Wales.

“The message I will be giving to people in Wales is while they must be alert to the continuing danger of coronavirus, if you’re not out of your house for an essential purpose – and that does include exercise, it can include shopping and it must include going to work for people who can safely do so – staying at home remains the best way that you can protect yourself and others,” Mr Drakeford said.

He added: “The fewer contacts you have with other people, the more you suppress your own risk and the risk to others.

“So being alert is important but staying at home has not gone away.”

Health minister Vaughan Gething tweeted that there had been no discussion or agreement about the UK Government’s new slogan with the other three nations of the UK.

“I’ve seen the media briefings and changed message for England. There has not been a four nations agreement or discussion on this,” he tweeted.

He said the Welsh Government message had not changed, with people urged to stay home and to follow social distancing rules if they do go outside.

Jeremy Miles, counsel general for Wales, tweeted: “In Wales, the very clear message is to STAY HOME AND SAVE LIVES.

“That’s what we ALL need to do, in order to get the virus under control.

“It’s been many weeks of restrictions, it’s really tough for a lot of people but we are not remotely out of the woods yet. #StayHomeSaveLives”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, tweeted: “Now is not the time to drop the ‘stay at home’ message.

“The consequences could be disastrous. Instead let’s drive new cases right down and build up testing and tracing. That’s the only way to exit lockdown safely.”

Mr Drakeford also told Ridge that he expected England would follow an “incremental approach” to lifting lockdown restrictions rather than anything “more dramatic”.

On Friday, the Welsh Government announced a further three weeks of the measures in Wales, with three small changes due to take place from Monday.

People in Wales will be able to exercise more than once a day, with garden centres allowed to reopen with social distancing guidelines in place and local authorities starting planning on how to safely open libraries and recycling centres.

The Welsh Government’s technical advisory cell estimates the R value – the number of people the average infected individual would spread the virus to – to currently be around 0.8 in Wales.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Politics Wales that the R value being below one gave “a little bit of headroom” to make the small changes to lockdown restrictions.

“We will monitor the impact of these modest measures to see whether R begins to creep up – we think it won’t but it’s a virus full of surprises,” he said.

“We won’t do more until we are sure that we continue to have headroom between where we are in Wales, and where we would begin to get above that one figure.”

Mr Drakeford said lockdown could not “go on forever” due to the impacts on people’s health and on the economy.

He told BBC Politics Wales that over the next three weeks, the Welsh Government would be considering whether routine procedures that been postponed could be re-started.

Schools will not open at the beginning of June but there will be discussions with teaching unions, local authorities and parents about when and how they could do so, he said.

On Saturday, Public Health Wales said a total of 1,090 people had died after testing positive for coronavirus, an increase on nine of Friday’s figures.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wales was 11,121, an increase of 118 from Friday’s figures.