Say no to a handshake, give up high fives, refuse kisses on the cheek and definitely avoid hugging. All around the world people are changing their daily habits at work and at home to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading.
In China, red billboards tell people not to shake hands but to join their own hands together in a sign of greeting. Loudspeakers tell people to make the traditional gong shou gesture (a fist in the opposite palm) to say hello.
Newspapers have been filled with advice over how to replace handshaking – a daily formality for the French at work and kissing on the cheek, a regular greeting habit in France even between people who have only just met. Lifestyle expert Philippe Lichtfus, who has been widely cited in the media, insists that handshakes are a relatively recent development in human history that began in the Middle Ages. He says simply looking into a person’s eyes can suffice as a greeting.
During the press conference, Shen Xiangzhen, a member of the liberal Korean party, suggested that when greeting the people, members of the party could shape the hand into heart mode, instead of handshaking. Say no to handshake, give up clapping, refuse to kiss and avoid hugging.
Brad Hazzard, the New South Wales health minister, advised people not to shake hands and instead give each other a pat on the back. “I won’t say don’t kiss” he said, “but you could be exercising a degree of care and caution with whom you choose to kiss.”
On March 2, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts tweeted a video of him colliding with a quarantine officer at the University of Nebraska's national quarantine office in Omaha to greet him at the elbow.
Romania’s Martisor festival marks the beginning of spring when talismanic strings and flowers are handed out, often from men to women. But the government has passed on a message to people urging them to hand over the flowers and talismans without the accompanying kiss. “Let’s give the flowers but not the kiss,” said Nelu Tataru, state secretary at the health ministry.
In Poland, one of Europe’s most Catholic countries, the faithful are allowed to take “spiritual communion” instead of consuming the communal bread – or the host can be taken in the hands rather than the mouth. The faithful are also asked not to dip their hands in the holy water when going in and out of the church and instead make the sign of the cross.
The United Arab Emirates, as well as Qatar, are advising citizens to stop the traditional “nose to nose” greeting. The UAE also said that people shouldn’t shake hands anymore or kiss. Greet each other “by waving only”, it said.