Social bubbles and no childrens parties: this way contacts can be limited at home

Should there be curfew or no curfew? It is one of the options that is now being discussed in particular to reduce the number of coronavirus infections. Today Jaap van Dissel suggested another tightening in the House of Representatives: limiting visitors. Because the figures from the RIVM show that of all the infections from which the source could be traced, 36 percent took place last week at visit in the home situation.

Epidemiologist Alma Tostmann of Radboud University understands Van Disselss plea: โ€œBy tightening up the rules, the cabinet would send out the signal that it is really necessary to limit your social contacts.โ€

First of all, about a curfew; opinions are divided in Alkmaar:

In fact, the corona roadmap presented by the Cabinet a few months ago stated that in the event of a lockdown there should be no more visitors at all. That has never been the case in practice – and that is a good thing, says Tostmann. โ€œThat would be very intense, especially for people living alone.โ€

Social bubble

Pediatrician and epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning of the UMC Utrecht believes that you should not only reduce the number of visitors who receive a household per day. โ€œNow, if you have a family every day, with two parents and three children, then you will follow the rules completely. But then you still have a lot of changing contacts.โ€

Bruijning therefore advocates a system similar to the social bubble in Belgium. You may receive a certain number of guests, but for a specified period – for example a week – they must be the same people. Bruijning: โ€œIts never quite clear what it is about, but you can see that in Belgium they now have better control of the infections.โ€ The number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants was more than four times lower in Belgium in the last week of last year than in the Netherlands.

The social bubble in Belgium was replaced by the cuddly contact: one adult who is still allowed to visit. It must always be the same. And where children up to twelve are not counted in the Netherlands, in Belgium the cuddly contact must leave the children at home.

Childrens Parties

Alma Tostmann thinks the Dutch rules are sufficient, but Patricia Bruijning sees some room for tightening. โ€œI also see in my own environment that there are sometimes childrens parties. Then there can be children from many different families together, if the adults only come from one family. You stick to the regulations completely, but the question is whether thats in the spirit with the rules. You could say: its fine that children are outside, but when visiting, it must be the children who belong to the adults of one other family.โ€

Bruijning also thinks that his outside needs to be made more attractive: โ€œThe chance of getting infected outside is about 18 to 20 times smaller than inside. And yet you can only meet two people outside, while inside you are allowed to receive many more people. If all social contacts were to take place outside, there would be far fewer infections.โ€

Alma Tostmann also says that the risk of infection outside is much less: โ€œId rather four people get together outside than inside.โ€ Yet she does not think that you should relax the rules of being outside together: โ€œIt is only a question of whether the kind of social contact that takes place inside can be moved out. And in addition, it is also difficult to determine whether a larger group of people, for example, consists of two families or more.โ€

Epidemiologist Tostmann is therefore more keen to learn from more specific contamination rates: โ€œLast week, the number of infections only increased in 18 to 24 year olds, while all educational institutions are closed. If one or more groups are responsible for increasing infection rates, you should look at which measures are most useful in that group. If you do tighten the visitrules, while that does not affect the group with the ascending infections, that is not enough.โ€

Prime Minister Rutte calls on the House of Representatives not to rule out a curfew as a solution: