Don't be so handsy: 13 hands-free greetings for the coronavirus era

Handshaking is so last year. Give someone an air high five or Spock's Vulcan salute instead.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Greet someone with a namaste bow.

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France has discouraged cheek-kissing, and Germany has suspended shaking hands. In the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic, touching is a no-no, at least when it comes to people other than your (healthy) kin. In the age of social distancing, we need to learn new ways to say hello. The World Health Organization recommends staying three feet away from someone who is sick or potentially contagious, while the CDC stresses keeping a six-foot distance. 

Even if you regularly sanitize your hands, the virus can spread through bodily fluids from coughing, kissing, spitting, even heavy breathing that propels vaporized moisture into the air. All you have to do is breathe it in or get it on something and rub your mouth, eyes or nose to complete the transfer.

Expanding your personal space bubble doesn't just protect you, it also helps keep others from getting ill with the COVID-19 disease. While globally the fatality rate is 3.4%, according to the WHO and Worldometer, those who are 60 or older have a higher fatality rate that extends to 21.9%. (Note that these numbers are based on testing of extreme cases and the numbers are constantly changing). 

Fortunately, there are other unique ways to greet someone that don't require physical contact. Many cultures already greet without touching, as with a bow or nod of the head, but now's a good time to widely adopt these ideas. We share some of our favorite hands-free greetings, including Spock's Vulcan salute, and also tell you which popular methods to avoid. 

Do you have another greeting idea? Share it in the comments below.

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Top touch-free greetings 

  • Embrace Spock's "live long and prosper" salute 🖖
  • Flash a peace sign✌
  • Place your hand over your heart like WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 💚 
  • Nod or flick your head in acknowledgment ('sup)
  • A slight bow will show your respect
  • Turn on your 1,000-watt smile 😄💡
  • Channel your inner toddler and blow kisses (without the spittle) 😘
  • Give air high fives like you used to do in school (from 3 feet away of course) 🙌
  • Air hugs can still be comforting (same as above)
  • Be calm and namaste on 🙏
  • Bring out the finger guns and a wink 🤠😉
  • Devise a secret greeting dance with your friends 🕺🏾
  • Use sign language to say hello (or create your own hand language) 👋
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How not to greet

Remember that the recommendation is to stay between three and six feet away from others to reduce your risk of spreading or contracting the virus. Here's what you don't want to do.

  • Elbow bump: Remember that people are advised to cough and sneeze into their elbows
  • Hip bump: Your personal bubble has burst!
  • Toe tap: Unless your legs are super long, we suggest leaving this one out
  • Cheers with your glass: Celebrating is nice, but you don't want to risk getting someone's saliva on your glass, or vice versa

As the world adjusts to the new reality of COVID-19 as a pandemic, we have more measures to help keep you protected. Here's how to avoid coronavirus with these 9 practical tips to limit exposure without isolating yourself, 5 cleaning tools to help sanitize your house from coronavirus and how to prepare and stock up for a coronavirus quarantine.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.