Doctors and immunology experts recommend refraining from handshakes and kisses to avoid becoming infected with covid-19, which has wreaked havoc on the world. How then should we greet each other?
As the coronavirus continues its deadly spread across the world people are coming up with imaginative ways of greeting each other in public without actually touching.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the ‘eyvallah’ greeting to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as the latter extended his hand for a shake. Erdogan smiled and explained simply: “Corona” to much laughter around the room.
A similar scene took place in Germany last week. This time it was Angela Merkel who reached out to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who then refused to shake the Chancellor’s hand.
According to Deutsche Welle (DW), Merkel said laughing: "That was the right thing to do.”
Doctors and infectious disease specialists warn against shaking hands or kissing people in greetings to reduce the risk of catching covid-19. Yet people, who remain social animals, have come up with clever ways to greet each other.
One example is the ‘footshake’, in which the two parties lift opposite legs and touch their feet in the air, repeating the same action on the other foot.
The French government has asked citizens not to shake hands or kiss each other on the cheek, and there have been social meetings via apps like FaceTime that allow face-to-face communication at a safe distance.
Then there’s the elbow bump, as seen in the case of Prince Harry and singer-songwriter Craig David.
Even etiquette experts are changing their tune. Famed expert Emily Post’s great-great-grandson Daniel Post Senning tells Quartz that 10 years ago during the SARS epidemic, he told people not to shy away from shaking hands, but just recommended washing hands afterwards.
Post Senning’s advice for coronavirus is a different matter, however. He advises finding a new social greeting and tactfully introducing it into your daily routine while still acknowledging that you are pleased to see your acquaintance.
“What you’re really saying is, ‘I’m listening to public health officials and participating in a global community that’s trying to prevent this from spreading as broadly or as fast as it might otherwise,’” he tells Quartz. “You’re helping to establish a new social expectation, and that will be the new standard at least while we’re dealing with the virus.”