Is Handshaking on the Way Out?

In a society where social distancing has become the norm, health officials warn don’t shake hands in face of the coronavirus pandemic. Will it last? News | Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading coronavirus expert, suggests that the traditional greeting of shaking hands might need to end even after the COVID-19 pandemic is under control

As health officials say social distancing appears to be slowing down the spread of coronavirus, could traditional handshaking be a thing of the past?

Some, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading COVID-19 expert, wonder what life will look like once the coronavirus is in the past when it comes to greeting someone.

“As a society, just forget about shaking hands,” he said during a news briefing this week. “We don’t need to shake hands, we’ve got to break, we’ve got to break that custom. Because as a matter of fact, that is really one of the major ways that you can transmit a respiratory illness.”

- Advertisement -

With communicable diseases such as the novel coronavirus, and with the flu and the common cold circulating, some health professionals are saying it’s a good idea to shake off some old practices – like the simple handshake.

Could the idea of a firm handshake and looking someone in the eye – something parents teach kids at a young age – be a thing of the past?

While society may not come to that, health officials like Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News contributor, wants people to wash their hands more, not touching their face as much, and cough appropriately into the crook of the arm.

“We’re not toddlers,” she said. “We need to have a little more control over how often we put our hands on our face. By decreasing the number of times we touch our face, by washing our hands a lot more…maybe it won’t be 50 percent of the population washing their hands after using the bathroom. Maybe we’ll near 80 percent, 90 percent. It will just be a cleaner America. Let’s make sure we take these precautions so we can continue to shake hands. It’s hugely important in social interactions. I don’t want to get to the place where we’re doing high-fives or elbow bumps. I like shaking hands, but maybe I’m a little old school.”

To avoid the handshake, some soccer teams use a foot-shake. In some cultures there’s the Thai “wai” bow with hands folded, prayer-like. Perhaps a simple a wave of the hand or fist bump will become the new norm.

A recommendation from Dr. Saphier to stay safe, avoid the virus, during these unprecedented times is to “just pretend you have the virus and everybody has the virus, she said on FOX News. “If you think of yourself being infected and everyone else is infected as well, all of a sudden you’re going to find yourself not touching things as much, washing your hands more and keeping some distance. If you maintain that thought process you’re going to keep yourself pretty safe.”

The handshake or the simplest of nonverbal, polite exchanges that can make a lasting impression has been around for thousands of years. Its origin is in question but one belief was it was a way to show another person that no weapons were being carried, eliminating the fear of danger.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, Fauci stressed that handshaking is one of the major ways respiratory illnesses are spread. Now, if enough people follow the advice of the foremost physician on the virus it could be on the way out.

As a society, just forget about shaking hands,” he said. “We don’t need to shake hands. We’ve got to break that custom.”