Who will be the “Covid mediators” in the shops of the Alpes-Maritimes?

Of the new health framework imposed in Nice and its surroundings, the confinement restored the next two weekends is certainly the most emblematic. But the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, Bernard Gonzalez, also detailed the additional restrictions imposed on shops in the department from February 23: closure of brands and shopping malls over 5,000 m2, excluding food stores, pharmacies and “Everything related to the health sector” ; gauge range from 10 to 15 m2 per visitor in sites over 400 m2. All in the “Respect for barrier gestures, very strictly ensured”.

→ READ. Alpes-Maritimes: the effectiveness of partial containment remains to be proven

“In a business, even if the gauge is respected, it is not acceptable for customers to congregate around a stall or wear the mask loosely”, rebuked the prefect. To remedy these “Mixing problems” and of “Meetings between people”, Bernard Gonzalez asked traders, “And in particular to the greatest of them”, to acquire a “Covid mediator, who will invite customers to respect the rules”.

“Who do we put in this place, a salesperson?” “

What are the exact missions of this “mediator”? Does he have to take specific training? Asked on several occasions, the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes was not able to specify the outlines of this function.

President of the Nice Federation of Commerce and Crafts (22 associations and 1,400 brands), Philippe Desjardins discovered the “Mediator” during the press conference. “It was a surprise, I was not aware”, admits the one who prides himself on having the ear of local administrations. “Who do we put in this place, a salesperson?, he asks. We will need at least 48 hours to clear this up. But if they proposed it, it is because it is doable. “

Neither a “referent” nor an “anti-Covid mediator”?

The national protocol written against the epidemic already indicates that“A Covid-19 referent is appointed” in each company: the employee invested “Ensures the implementation of defined measures and information to employees”. In the presence of a proven case, it is up to him to “Facilitate the identification of contacts by the authorities in charge of contact tracing”. Is the “mediator” only a referent? The role sketched out by Bernard Gonzalez – “Invite customers to respect the rules” – places a much broader mission on it.

→ CONTEXT. Covid-19: partial confinement, accelerated vaccination … Measures in the Alpes-Maritimes

The “mediator” is not a new term in the coronavirus hunt. The “anti-Covid mediators” system was created in July 2020. But the role of these “actors in the field” does not seem to correspond to the prefect’s expectations any more: focused on screening, these personnel participate in carrying out the tests and / or contact-tracing, after specific training. Skills that should not be required in the brands of Alpes-Maritimes.

No “extra risk” of contamination

Whatever the tasks entrusted to the “mediator”, its establishment questions the role of businesses in the spread of SARS-CoV-2. “No particular case or cluster has come back to us from the prefecture”, reports Philippe Desjardins. In mid-December, the first benchmark French study on the sites of contamination, carried out by the Pasteur Institute, confirmed that the “Over-risk [identifié dans les bars et restaurants] was not observed for frequentation of shops. “

“Today, we are not able to link a risk of contamination to a particular type of activity, abounds Michèle Legeas, teacher at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health, specialist in the analysis and management of health risks. We don’t have the scientific tools to find out, unless we engage in experimental models and analyze store by store.. »

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