Nicola Sturgeon: "I think 'stay alert' is very vague compared to 'stay at home''
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appeared on Good Morning Britain following the release of the government's new message to "stay alert, control the virus and save lives."
During the interview Ms Sturgeon stated that she was in contact with the Prime Minister after she was questioned by Susanna Reid over the comment she made about finding out about his latest message from a Sunday newspaper.
Ms Sturgeon said: "I had a conversation with the Prime Minister last week. I made very clear to him my view that we should stick with the ‘Stay at home’ message."
"The Prime Minister is entitled to decide what message is appropriate for England. I am not here to criticise Boris Johnson. We’ve all got difficult decisions to make, we’re all trying to make them to the best of our ability. I think it’s an important point to stress - it’s not a political point, it’s actually a point of law, the lockdown restrictions are in place separately in all four of the UK nations, so the Prime Minister in England, myself in Scotland, the First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland, all have to look at the data in our own countries and come to decisions," she added.
Amid the confusion over the different messages, the First Minister of Scotland said: "If you live in England, you should take the advice from the Prime Minister and it’s for the Prime Minister to set out clearly why he thinks these decisions are right."
She added: The state in Scotland is as such that I think the stay at home message right now is the one we must stick to. My responsibility is to do what I think is right for Scotland. I think every leader, including the Prime Minister, has an obligation to be very clear in the messaging they’re giving. I’ve been very clear. I think ‘stay alert’ is very vague compared to ‘stay at home’, but I’ve said all along the virus doesn’t respect borders. We must, even if we’re on different timelines, we must coordinate our messages as much as possible."
"We shouldn’t be reading each other’s plans on the front page of newspapers, which has been a source of frustration for me in recent days, but my responsibility is to do what I think is right to protect the people of Scotland and that’s what I will continue to do. I will try to explain that as clearly as I possibly can," Ms Sturgeon continued.
Susanna went on to ask Ms Sturgeon about the transmission rates of coronavirus in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon responded: "The current estimate is it’s between 0.7 and 1, but we can’t be sure that it’s not closer to one than 0.7. There’s also an indication that it could be slightly higher in Scotland than other parts of the UK. All of this says to me we must err on the side of caution. We must push the infection rate as low as possible before we start to ease restrictions."
On why the UK is only now beginning to quarantine people who are flying in from other countries that have high rates of coronavirus, the First Minister of Scotland explained: “It is one of the issues where I have increasingly thought that that had to change and I’m glad now the UK government is changing its position. I think that change should be introduced as quickly as possible."
She added: "There’s not very much traffic coming through our airports right now. Border control is a reserved matter for the UK government."
On visiting parents and maintaining social distancing, Ms Sturgeon said: "That is not the situation in Scotland. The situation in Scotland, apart from that one change around exercise, hasn’t changed. The advice is stay at home, stay away from people in households other than your own. Now, I haven’t seen my parents for weeks and weeks and weeks, I miss them dearly. My husband and I haven’t seen my 90-year-old mother-in-law for weeks, who’s very vulnerable. These are really difficult things for everybody, but there’s a reason for that and that’s for the protection of older people."
The First Minister of Scotland ended the interview by saying Boris Johnson is making decisions based on the evidence he sees in England. She said: "That is his right. I think he has a duty to be as clear as possible, I’m not sure he and his government are being as clear as they could be about that, but that is their right. The fact that I don’t think these decisions are right for Scotland because the data tells me that the virus is not yet sufficiently under control doesn’t by necessity and inevitably mean these decisions are wrong elsewhere in the UK."
"We all have these judgements to make, but the two obligations we have, firstly is to explain our decisions and continue to coordinate as much as possible which I’m committed to doing across the four nations, but be as clear as possible," she added.