Following warnings from health authorities to eschew shaking hands as the coronavirus continues to race around the globe, many Australians are no doubt at a loss as to how to offer a cheerful “g’day”.
Following warnings from health authorities to eschew shaking hands as the coronavirus continues to race around the globe, many Australians are no doubt at a loss as to how to offer a cheerful "g'day".
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard yesterday urged Australians to drop their "automatic" hand-shaking reflex, and opt instead for a pat on the back.
Handshakes, hugs and kisses hello have also been warned against across Asia and Europe. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel found her proffered hand rebuffed by her Interior Minister.
But etiquette expert Anna Musson of The Good Manners Company told nine.com.au there were less awkward ways of greeting friends, new acquaintances, and professional peers.
"The ground rule is that good manners suggest you put the other person's needs before your own," she said.
If, feeling under the weather or otherwise uneasy, you don't want to shake somebody's hand, it is essential to establish that before they extend their own.
But there are some phrases to avoid when it comes to discussing sickness.
"You will need to excuse yourself by saying something like, 'I'm so sorry, I'm a bit under the weather and would rather not risk passing anything on'," Ms Musson said.
"Don't mention the world 'infection', don't mention 'coronavirus'."
Even if you're foregoing handshakes, good hand hygiene was still vital, Ms Musson said.
Sneeze or cough into your elbow, make handheld sanitizers your "constant companion", and be seen often to be washing your hands to put others at their ease.
If you're asked in the office to share your phone or tablet, Ms Musson recommended using a sanitary wipe to quickly clean it first, for the same reason.
Coronavirus halts the Aussie handshake
The quintessential Australian sense of humour is a great way of smoothing over any awkwardness that might result from changed greeting protocols.
"For example, in the Good Manners office, we decided to introduce the corona-high-five, where you act out a high-five without touching hands," Ms Musson said.
"It's a great Australian way of making light of something that can be very serious."
By the same token, she said, Australians were never likely to be part of a culture that would bow, backslap, or curtsey in many greeting situations.
But she believes Australians are becoming more aware of how they relate to others, leaving behind the "she'll be right" attitude of previous years.
"We need to show some sensitivity," she said.
For example, she suggested replacing a handshake or hug with a nod and smile around the elderly or unwell, if you're feeling sick yourself.
"For many Australians, the status quo won't change," she said.
"Most Australians will continue to shake hands. But some people will be worried, they will be nervous, and it is important to be aware of that."
She said to keep in mind that the handshake originated in ancient times as a way to signal to somebody else that you came in peace, and that you weren't holding or concealing a weapon when approaching somebody.
"Now, it has to mean, 'I come in peace' and also 'I come in good health'," she said.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-nsw-health-minister-urges-australians-to-stop-shaking-hands-what-to-do-instead-etiquette-expert-exclusive/d073d8ba-78ea-4932-b164-9a35328c8ec0