As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, government leaders and others are getting creative in greeting one another, as the world transitions away from traditional handshakes and hugs to minimize the spread of germs.
World leaders have adopted a range of new greetings ― including elbow bumps and foot shakes ― following World Health Organization advice to stop handshaking. Even some of those methods, however, don’t go far enough, say health officials, who advise social distancing with greetings that don’t require touching at all.
Here are some of the greetings that are being used as society moves away from contact.
Hand on heart
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he’s opting for hand on heart in lieu of handshaking, which enables him to greet people at least three feet away.
“When greeting people, best to avoid elbow bumps because they put you within one meter of the other person. I like to put my hand on my heart when I greet people these days,” he said.
While no longer recommended, this handshake alternative was already adopted by many officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Prince Harry, who was spotted exchanging the move with singer Craig David.
While the elbow bump does limit skin-to-skin contact, it’s better to use greetings that allow for more distance, given the virus can spread between people within six feet of one another.
The namaste bow
Many have taken to the Indian greeting of namaste, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed the world is increasingly moving to adopt it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron, President Donald Trump, and Prince Charles are among world leaders spotted using the greeting.
Netanyahu encouraged Israelis to adopt the Indian alternative, Trump joked during a press conference following his return from his India trip that it was easy to avoid handshaking there, and Prince Charles was seen retracting a handshake and offering the palms-together greeting instead at a recent London event.
The foot shake
Tanzanian President John Magufuli was pictured tapping feet with the leader of the opposition party Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad earlier this month. And in China, some of those in the original epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak reportedly dubbed the greeting the “Wuhan shake.”
Again, while this is safer than handshaking, unless you have extraordinarily long legs you’ll probably not be able to stick to the distance rule when using this greeting, so it’s better to use an alternative.
A range of other options have been proposed on social media. Here are some of the suggestions that don’t require contact: