Covid-19: we explain the “rule of 6” recommended to the French by Emmanuel Macron

No more headaches for superstitious people who don’t want to be thirteen. Emmanuel Macron asked the French, Wednesday, October 14, not to “no more than six at the table” during their private meetings. A rule that also applies in the public space.

“When we have dinner, when we celebrate a birthday, when we eat in a restaurant, it’s six maximum”, explains the Elysee on its site, the day after this interview on TF1 and France 2. Does this additional rule decided to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic make sense? Applicable? And applied abroad? Response elements.

Why six people maximum?

The head of state did not report specific studies, but the idea is still the same: you have to limit your social interactions to slow the spread of the virus. Six is ​​not a magic number, explains to Parisian Pascal Crépey, epidemiologist at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health. The advantage of this type of measurement is limit the creation of clusters. This means that if one of the six is ​​infected, there will be no more than five other people who may be as well. ”

“There is no magic number, but it is clear that when you have a group of 70 people, you are ten times more likely to meet someone who is sick than if you have a group of seven, advanced virologist Bruno Lina, member of the scientific council, from October 10, on franceinfo. It is a question of effectively defining these kinds of social bubbles which allow us to continue to have contacts, to see people, to go to restaurants, to receive, but avoiding excessive mixing. “

Was this measure already applied?

In restaurants, the “rule of six” came into effect on October 5 in Paris, Marseille and Guadeloupe. “VSThis rule has already been applied for a few days in bars and restaurants in high alert zones. Establishments must separate tables by one meter and accommodate a maximum of six people “, recalls France Inter. The restaurateurs, who wanted to be able to bring together up to eight people at the same table, had not been successful.

Have other countries implemented it?

Yes. This “rule of six” was for example imposed in mid-September in the United Kingdom, note The world. Gatherings of more than six people are prohibited there (except in schools and businesses). This limitation applies “to gatherings indoors and outdoors, in private accommodation, outdoor public spaces and places such as pubs and restaurants”, according to 10 Downing Street, quoted by The Parisian. In Quebec, it’s even worse: residents are called upon not to receive guests at their homes.

Is this “rule of six” effective?

Belgium had adopted a similar rule asking Belgians to limit the group of relatives they see to five people. But the gauge has varied a lot: lhe country had set this “social bubble” at five people per household, then at ten, then at fifteen, before going back to five. But all these changes have confused the Belgians, lost by the measure which is moreover difficult to respect within many families.

The Belgian government has therefore decided to change course, especially since this “social bubble” escaped controls. In fact, the government has decided to abolish it. It is no longer compulsory, but the government calls on the Belgians to be responsible and “keep this benchmark of five people to limit contact without barrier gestures”. “Better are more flexible measures that everyone respects than drastic measures that no one respects”, explains Julien Gasparutto, the correspondent of France Televisions in Brussels.

Can there be sanctions?

It is a recommendation that has no legal effect. “It is a moral rule”, specifies lawyer Patrice Spinosi, contacted by France Inter. According to him, this “rule of six” can never lead to penalties if it is broken at home. “He asks the population to respect the same constraints as those imposed on restaurateurs, continues Patrice Spinosi. But there is in no way any regulatory or legal obligation to abide by this six-person rule at a private home. “

Either way, argued The world on September 2, it is impossible in law, outside the criminal framework, to legislate on a private gathering in a place of residence.It is a ban valid only in public places, places for collective use or establishments open to the public. The living quarters, which come under the private sphere, are not governed by this health administrative police. The attack on the inviolability of the home supposes the intervention of a judge “, explained Serge Slama, professor of public law at the University of Grenoble-Alpes.

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