As coronavirus spreads to new countries around the world, in places where a kiss on the cheek is a customary greeting, people are finding new ways to say hello.
In France and Italy, where a smooch is a typical reception, officials have told residents to limit their physical contact to slow the spread of the virus.
French Health Minister Olivier Véran had said people should merely avoid shaking hands, but on Saturday he advised the French also to cut back on “la bise,” the custom of kissing or air-kissing each other’s cheeks, the Associated Press reported.
There are about 100 confirmed cases in France.
In Italy, where more than 1,100 people are infected, the special commissioner for the coronavirus response, Angelo Borrelli, suggested the virus’s swift spread may be due to Italians’ demonstrative nature.
“We have a collective social life that is very florid, very expansive. We have lots of contact, we shake hands, we kiss each other, we hug each other,” Borrelli said, according to the AP. “Maybe it is better in this period not to shake hands, and do not have too much contact, and try to be a bit less expansive, which is different from how I am.”
At Fashion Week in Milan, attendees quit cheek kissing in favor of other gestures, including tapping fingertips, which one fashionista dubbed, “the new coronavirus kiss,” the AP reported.
Sharmine Narwani, a political analyst focused on the Middle East, tweeted a video from Iran of men tapping feet as a greeting.
“No kissing, no hand shaking, no hugs,” Narwani wrote.
Even in the United States, Miami Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez told reporters Thursday that residents should nod instead of kissing or shaking hands.
Not everyone has taken those warnings to heart. Time reporter Vera Bergengruen tweeted from Miami International Airport two women pulling back face masks to kiss cheeks.
Face masks do not prevent the wearers from getting sick, and only N95 masks, if fitted properly, filter airborne particles, The Post previously reported.