North rejects Johnson’s ‘Stay alert’ slogan, keeps ‘Stay at home’ message

Another five Covid-19 deaths brings total fatalities to 435 in Northern Ireland

First Minister Arlene Foster. ‘It is important for people to know we are not doing this in a nanny state way.’ Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA

First Minister Arlene Foster. ‘It is important for people to know we are not doing this in a nanny state way.’ Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA

 

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has said the North will not adopt the British government’s new coronavirus “Stay alert” slogan, and would instead retain the “Stay at home, save lives” message.

On Sunday, another five Covid-19 deaths were reported in Northern Ireland, the North’s Department of Health confirmed, taking total fatalities to 435.

A further 41 positive cases were also diagnosed, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the North to 4,119.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland radio on Sunday, Mrs Foster said: “On the whole, the message is to stay at home. We will say we are not deviating from the message at this time.

“It is important for people to know we are not doing this in a nanny state way. Once we can move, we will move.”

Mrs Foster said there may be slight differences to how the lockdown measures are eased across the United Kingdom, but said that Northern Ireland’s movement would be nuanced.

The North’s reproductive rate (R0) – the number of people an infected person infects – is currently at 0.8.

She said that is higher than some areas in England and it needs to be driven down before the North can move to relax measures.

Nuanced

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, ahead of British prime minister Boris Johnson’s address, she said: “We will be looking at some nuanced changes throughout that time and we will await to hear what the prime minister has to say today.

“But I think, in terms of the Northern Ireland public, it is important that we continue to protect them and make sure this virus does not start transmitting again in the community in a way that would cause damage to the community.”

Mrs Foster said the lockdown could be eased in different regions as Northern Ireland’s rate of transmission is higher than other parts in the UK.

“There are differences across the UK, regional differences; I think the prime minister recognises those regional differences and, as a result, you may see slight differences across the UK.”

“It is important that we do what is right in our region of the United Kingdom moving forward. That is why we are coming with our road plan early next week. It will set out how we can take graduated steps back to what will be a different normality.” - PA