The prime minister has praised Britons for showing “common sense” regarding updated coronavirus lockdown rules after the government was criticised for sending mixed messages.
Boris Johnson rejected claims he made a confusing address on Sunday when he announced a relaxation of restrictions that included allowing people to meet up outside and others to return to work.
Johnson, responding to an MP during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, said: “All those who talk about confusion or mixed messages are grossly overstating the position.
“The common sense of the British people is shining through this argument.
“They can see where we want to go, they can see where we need to go."
The government has faced criticism that its new guidance – “stay alert, control the virus, save lives” – is confusing and that people were being given contradictory information about how safe it was to have contact with others.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, criticised the government’s call for a return to work after pictures showed packed buses and trains on Wednesday morning.
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He said: “This incident shows just how fraught with danger the government’s return to work call is for our transport services in the midst of this pandemic.
“One incident and we are reduced to crisis management with reports that social distancing is impossible with Tube carriages rammed.
“RMT warned this would happen and we were ignored. We are monitoring the situation across services this morning and will discuss any appropriate action with our local reps.”
The PM’s new “stay alert” slogan was rejected by the devolved governments, with the Scottish first minister suggesting the mixed messages could mean “people will die unnecessarily”.
She added: “Clarity of message is paramount if we are to rely on you to know exactly what it is we’re asking of you, and as leaders we have a duty to deliver that clarity to those we are accountable to, not to confuse it.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer said Johnson’s statement on easing a lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus raised more questions than it answered.
He said: “The prime minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.
“What the country wanted tonight was clarity and consensus, but we haven’t got either of those.”
Transport minister Grant Shapps admitted on Wednesday “there is no perfect way” of easing lockdown measures after being asked why estate agents were being allowed to resume house viewings when people could not have relatives to visit.
He told Sky News: “The truth of the matter is, you have to start somewhere.
“The lockdown message was very straightforward – it was just stay at home. Now as we start to unlock, of course, there have to be decisions made.
“There is no perfect way of doing this, and we’d ask people to use their common sense ... Right now, there has to be a cut-off somewhere.”