Just like that, traditional gestures of greeting have become taboo. Humans have been shaking hands in one form or another for thousands of years (though the handshake as we know it today was first popularised by Quakers a few hundred years ago). The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has forced all of us to change our behaviour in order to prevent infection, and that means handshakes (along with the beloved European cheek kiss) have been swiftly phased out.

Yet old habits die hard. For example, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced at a press conference in March 2020 that “From this moment on, we stop shaking hands,” before ending the meeting by shaking hands with the health official next to him. It turns out the handshake habit is really hard to shake.

In the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead members of the Trump Administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, has suggested (“somewhat seriously”) that we may “never shake hands again”. Indeed, some are already celebrating the death of the handshake as an annoying custom which should have been dispensed with long ago. Professor Herman Roodenburg, a Dutch academic and one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of the handshake, also thinks we should retire the practice.

Ultimately, it really depends how long the pandemic lasts. Steven Pinker, the bestselling author and Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, thinks handshaking is too ingrained in our cultures to be abandoned, and that it will return “in the distant future when the virus is under control”. However, cultures can (and do) change. If the “distant future” is too distant (and if the threat of future pandemics feels very real), then the taboo against shaking hands may stay.

Will we ever shake hands again? Or will traditional gestures of greeting return when the danger of infection has passed? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) insidestudio

17 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Will we shake hands again should not be a question if everyone can take the responsibility to follow a proper hygienic practice/measure. For example, it has reported that everyone meeting Putin would be going through a room or some device to be disinfected entirely. This is just like taking a bath/shower after doing sport. Everything is just a practice. Less politics and more positive mentality to coexist with the virus might be our only choice. We do not know after or even at the midst of the Covid-2019, what virus would be attacking us. For man to survive, we have no choice, collective security is the only answer.

  2. avatar

    Even better to do nothing like this! Disgusting! Special Orbán did it too!

  3. avatar

    Of course we will shake hands and give hugs again, kiss each other and be close. But first the infection rate must be zero. And measures must be taken to avoid such outbreaks again. China in this respect has an enormous responsibility as their lack of action caused millions of victims. Allegedly not in their own country which is not possible nor credible. Strong leadership is needed that takes sustainable actions, avoiding new waves. But above all, international organisation like the WHO/UN need a complete revamp, getting themselves rid of Chinese influence and be more reactive. This pandemic has shown how Chinese corrupt politics/politicians on every level caused a massive global health crisis, with most likely millions of death, and then used the same corrupt tactics to hide it from the world through an incompetent corrupted WHO. A nice example how everyone can now be impacted by Chinese CCP tyranny.

    • avatar

      What evidence do you have by suggesting “China in this respect has an enormous responsibility as their lack of action caused millions of victims?” Do not spread false information in a serious forum. Only stupid fool would accept unverified information. Do not insult yourself and rational beings here.

  4. avatar

    Yes we will. And hug. And kiss.. and pat on the back. And pet the head and pinch the cheeks. If the elbow trend continues after the virus we’ll something will be wrong with the people doing it, unless it’s for a joke.

    • avatar

      I’m waiting for comments about irresponsible etc

    • avatar

      by whom?

  5. avatar

    Normal people haven’t stopped hugging, handshaking or kissing. This question applies only to coronavirus freaks…

  6. avatar

    I think it’s better to greet with an arm or a leg.

  7. avatar

    We are still doing it but unofficially xD

  8. avatar

    I won’t shake hands with anyone again. We’ve all known for ages that hand shaking is a germ-spreader, but it’s one of those things most people didn’t really think about: when someone offered their hand to you, or you did it to them, the automatic response was to reciprocate. But the pandemic has brought this knowledge of the spread of germs to the forefront of our consciousness. If in the future someone offers their hand, I will pat them on the shoulder. It would be a shame never to touch each other ever again because that’s what our species has always done, it’s part of what makes us human :)

  9. avatar

    I wouldn’t talk to anyone that offers an elbow instead of handshake. It’s rude and stupid.

  10. avatar

    Definitely I will shake hands again!!

  11. avatar

    I see guys in my area hugging as if nothing happens

  12. avatar

    Once vaccinated I fully intend to go on a hugging and kissing spree.

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