Hey, you. Are you alert right now? You are? Okay, good, stay that way.
That's the message of a bewildering new slogan from the British government, which has replaced its previously-clear coronavirus guidance of "stay home" with a weird new message to "stay alert."
Stay alert for what, exactly? Viruses disguising themselves as door-to-door salesmen? Accidentally getting Mogwai wet? Neighbors pitifully coughing like Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge? Who knows.
"Stay home" makes sense, and has the added benefit of actually, you know, helping with containment. "Stay alert" sounds like something a squadron leader shouts as you're preparing for the trench run on the Death Star.
Anyone who does manage to contract the virus/die can now be blamed for not having been alert enough. Oh, you suffocated alone in a hospital room? Well, you should have stayed more alert.
Me staying alert before leaving for work today..no wait a minute working from home..no hang on, I was right the first time: leaving for work!#StayAlert #thanksboris pic.twitter.com/TZ75M5WkWv
— Dr Amir Khan GP (@DrAmirKhanGP) May 11, 2020
The full slogan, "Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives," is a far cry from "Keep Calm and Carry On." But it's providing social media with plenty of new memes, like:
Still, it's better than what seems to have emerged as Seattle's slogan of "We Got This," which suggests that we got the virus. Why not just go with "let's get sickening?"
Boris Johnson, who is somehow still Prime Minister, released a clarification to explain that "stay alert" means "work from home if you can" and "wash your hands regularly."
In what universe does it mean those things? Who knows. Stay alert for further explanations!
How, you may be wondering, did the British government's top communications officials manage to approve such a bizarre message? Ah, that's simple: they didn't.
According to The Guardian, one of England's few remaining newspapers for grownups, nobody bothered to check with either the chief medical officer or the chief scientific adviser handling the government's coronavirus response.
Oh well! Maybe someone should have alerted them.
British Twitter, which you too can enjoy by staying up for hours with night terrors, was awash in derisive posts all night long. The government plastered their slogan on a yellow and green image that is absolutely perfect for editing and turning into memes, which naturally led to people replacing the message with similarly specific guidance like "live, laugh, love" and "eat fresh." So, if you were wondering why all your European friends are posting those things, now you know.
The official death count from coronavirus in the UK is now just over 32,000 people and still climbing. If only the folks in charge of the country had been more alert.