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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Pulumbarit

Social etiquette in the time of physical distancing

How do you greet a family member or friend at this time when physical distancing is encouraged due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Photo by Tobi from Pexels

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends having at least a one meter (3 feet) distance between people.

"When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease," WHO explained.

According to the The Emily Post Institute, considered as a worldwide authority on social etiquette, "Greetings that involve touching are still not recommended at this time."

The institute said hugs, handshakes, fist-bumps are discouraged but cheerful waves are encouraged -- "'professional wave,' your 'zoom-meeting wave,' your 'I-love-you-Grandma wave”, your “I-haven’t-seen-you-and-I’m-trying-so-hard-not-to-hug-you wave...'”

It also suggests matching one's tone of voice to the occasion when greeting other people.

The institute was established in 1946 by author and socialite Emily Post (October 27, 1872 to September 25, 1960), best known for her book "Etiquette: In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home,” published in 1922.

The institute is now being managed by members of the Post family.

Etiquette advice during pandemic

On Facebook, the institute has been giving practical advice on etiquette during the time of pandemic.

The institute said it considers safety above all when giving advice on etiquette, saying "we think first about safety and then about how to be kind and considerate and respectful when trying to be safe. Safety comes before etiquette. This doesn’t mean we toss consideration, respect, and honesty out the window."

The institute noted the importance of connecting with others during the pandemic.

"Reaching out to one another. Being patient and kind with each other. Listening to one another. Respecting one another. Helping those in need. These are the kinds of attitudes and actions that will carry us through. They often cost us nothing, and yet they can make an impactful difference," it said.

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