Boris Johnson accused of botching announcement of new UK lockdown rules

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday dropped the nationwide slogan "stay at home" and replaced it with "stay awake", saying that anyone who was unable to work from home – as construction and production workers – was now "actively encouraged" for to get back to work. But he also urged people to avoid public transport and stay at home if possible, leading to accusations of mixed messages.

Leaders in Scotland and Wales said they would stick to the "stay at home" message, and London's public transit authority said it would only be able to carry 15% of passengers even after restoring 100% of services.

Dominic Raab, the first secretary of state, appeared to muddy the waters in a round of media interviews Monday morning as he gave contradictory statements about the size and nature of collections that would be allowed between people from different households. Keir Starmer said Johnson's statement was confusing. "What the nation was looking for this evening was clarity and agreement. The truth is that the Prime Minister's statement raises more questions than it answers."

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In his address to the nation from Downing Street on Sunday night, Britain's prime minister revealed "careful steps" the government will take to ease emergency restrictions. He said people from Wednesday would be allowed to take unlimited outdoor training instead of just one ride per day, and would be allowed to sit in parks, drive to other destinations and play sports – but only with family members.

Johnson said the government would seek to reopen schools, shops and some of the hospitality industry in the weeks and months ahead.

A 50-page document detailing the announcement was to be published by the government on Monday afternoon.

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A woman wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) including a face mask walks Monday morning across the platform along a London Underground station.

Johnson also unveiled a new slogan "Stay alert, control the virus, Save Life" along with a Level 1 to 5 alert system to find out how quickly action can be eased without triggering a new wave of infections.

Prior to Johnson's announcement, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government would not adopt the slogan "Stay Alert". "Of course, it is up to him to decide what is most appropriate for England, but given the critical point we are in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives is my clear message to Scotland at this stage," Sturgeon tweeted.

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At a press conference in Edinburgh on Monday, she said people should not travel from England to Scotland unless they had a valid reason. "If you are in Scotland, the law of Scotland applies," she said.

Her Welsh colleague, Mark Drakeford, said Wales would also not release the "stay at home" message, while Northern Ireland's first prime minister Arlene Foster said she would continue to promote the "stay at home" message, according to PA Media. "We're not out of the woods. It's about steady progress, rather than making a line for the exit," Foster tweeted.

Defender of the reopening plan, Raab said Monday that the measures announced by Johnson the night before had been "clear." In a radio interview with the BBC, Raab reiterated the timeline given by Johnson. But he differed at some points, saying that workers who cannot work from home should start Wednesday, instead of immediately from Monday. He also gave conflicting answers about whether people would be able to meet one or two people from other households outdoors.

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Raab – who is actually Johnson's deputy prime minister – provided further details about specific jobs, including allowing people who work in other people's homes, including mobile hairdressers, not to return to work.

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Schools and other businesses may open June 1, and non-essential businesses, including hospitality, will be opened at the earliest in July, he confirmed.

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Raab refused to answer whether employees would be able to leave the job if they felt unsafe, saying "it's very difficult to answer that hypothetically."

"Employers have a duty to provide Covid-safe settings," he added.

Answering a question about the measures creates a "two-tier" system where "lower incomes take the risk of catching the virus and spreading it," Raab said it was "not right."

Business leaders and trade unions demanded clarity. Len McCluskey, secretary general of Britain's second largest trade union Unite, said "millions of people" would be "mute" by the government's plan. "The prime minister's response last night was both confusing and disbelieving," he told BBC radio. "Listening to Dominic Raab, I wonder why we didn't wait until we saw the 50-page document and guidelines that are about to come out before there was any indication of going back to work."
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Raab confirmed Monday that it would be a 14-day quarantine for arrivals to the UK, but did not say when it would start, with the exception of the quarantine to include at least some arrivals from France and freight.

UK Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee warned that the introduction of a quarantine period could have a "devastating impact" on the UK aviation industry. "Quarantine will not only have a devastating impact on the UK aviation industry, but also on the broader economy … if the government believes quarantine is medically necessary, it should be used on a selective basis according to science, it should be a clear exit strategy and the economic impact on key sectors should be dampened, "Dee said

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways parent company IAG, said the government's plan to quarantine arriving in the UK for 14 days was a "surprise" and would cause the airline to consider re-launching flights.

"We had planned to resume our flight on a fairly substantial basis in July," Walsh said in a virtual appearance at a meeting of the House of Commons Transport Committee. "I think we will have to review it based on what the Prime Minister said yesterday."

CNN's Max Ramsay, Ivana Kottasova and Simon Cullen in London contributed to the reporting.

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