The One Simple Thing Doctors Say They'll Never Do Again

This very simple everyday action is cancelled, according to doctors.

Even though it may now feel like centuries ago, life before the coronavirus pandemic was full of many daily rituals that have since become too unsafe to carry on. And while certain habits are slowly becoming acceptable again, there's at least one that may not survive. According to a panel of epidemiologists from around the globe polled by The New York Times, a plurality of respondents say that shaking hands as a greeting is the one thing they'll never do again—even after COVID-19 has become less prevalent.

The poll asked 511 medical experts when they expected to return to specific activities again. While many admitted they felt comfortable bringing in mail, seeing a doctor for a non-urgent appointment, and taking an overnight driving vacation as early as this summer, other activities were less popular. Many swore off attending weddings or funerals, meeting up with strangers, and not donning face masks in public for at least a year. But six percent of respondents said they would "never again" engage in hugging or shaking hands while greeting a friend—more than any other activity listed on the survey.

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Respondents were divided on just how far they would go in canceling customary greetings. "I think the handshake is dead," Priyanka Gogna of Queen's University said, although she admits that she would "likely hug a few personal contacts in the distant future as a greeting where appropriate." Others agreed that while they would never press palms again, a quick squeeze for a close friend was too much to give up, saying they'd be comfortable doing so again in time. "If we have a good vaccine, perhaps the first thing I'd do is more hugs," Christina Ludema, an epidemiologist at Indiana University, told The Times.

But other respondents, such as T. Christopher Bond, an epidemiologist with Bristol Myers Squibbtook his statement even further by telling The Times: "Real epidemiologists don't shake hands." And for more ways physical contact will change from now on, check out The Bizarre New Way You'll Be Hugging People, According to Experts.

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Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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