Near the end of a speech to a group of business people Friday, German chancellor Angela Merkel told everyone in the room she was planning to be very rude to them. “I’m not going to shake anyone’s hand tonight,” she said.
Handshaking, like face touching, is taking a hit amid the global development of coronavirus, which can be spread both through the air and via contact with infected surfaces. Along with Merkel swearing off the practice, businesses, youth soccer leagues, and the Archdiocese of Boston have banned handshakes.
So what are friends and colleagues to do when greeting one another? The National University of Singapore has a few suggestions. A recently published comic proposes a footshake, the Thai “wai,” bumping elbows, and simply waving.
“By avoiding handshakes, you can lower the risk of getting infected. So adopt alternative greetings instead,” the comic says, quoting Dr. Dale Fisher, an infectious-disease expert at the university.
Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the Department of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases at the World Health Organization, amplified the comic on Twitter Sunday, writing, “We need to adapt to this new disease.”
There is already some indication that handshake alternatives have caught on in China, where the coronavirus originated and is most widespread. A recent viral video shows men doing the footshake, or as some are calling it, the “Wuhan handshake.”
Remember, it’s always better to rub dirty feet than to smush together germ-covered hands.