11 Rude Behaviors We All Do Now, Thanks to Coronavirus

Holding doors and sending thank-you notes might just be things of the past.

The basics of etiquette once seemed relatively simple: say "please" and "thank you," put your napkin in your lap during meals, and offer a helping hand when you see others in need of one. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the polite things we once did for others suddenly seem like distant memories. With the help of doctors and etiquette experts, we've rounded up the behaviors that were once considered impolite, but now are simply safety precautions, thanks to the coronavirus. And if you want to be more polite in the future, make sure you know these 25 Etiquette Rules That Have Changed in Your Lifetime.

Refusing hugs

group of multiracial friends elbow bumping

While hugging may have once been the default greeting for many people, shying away from acts of physical affection is completely normal in light of the current public health crisis.

"I won't hug my patients anymore because I think the thought of a human touch scares anyone these days!" says Tanya Kormeili, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist with the Derm & Rejuvenation Institute in Santa Monica, Calif. "As much as I miss hugs, I am scared that we would be potentially infecting one another, and everyone we touch thereafter."

Not shaking hands

young asian women waving at each other while wearing masks

Refusing a handshake may have been considered impolite just a few months ago; today, it's just another means of protecting yourself.

"You want to avoid close personal contact, including not shaking hands when you greet someone," explains board-certified family physician Monique May, MD.

However, that doesn't mean you need to forgo those greetings all together. "Use a wave of the hand in greeting," suggests etiquette expert Marie Betts-Johnson, president of the International Protocol Institute of California, who also recommends placing your hand over your heart to communicate gratitude instead of a handshake or hug. And if you're looking for a new way to say hi, check out The Surprising Greeting That's Safer Than a Handshake.

Not sharing food

Woman eating scrambled eggs, cheese, tomatto and bread in restaurant by the water

If you're less inclined than ever to share a bite of that delicious dish you ordered, you're not alone.

"Sharing food or drinks—even just a small bite or taste—can facilitate the spread of infection," explains Gary Linkov, MD, an ENT and facial reconstructive surgeon with City Facial Plastics. "If an individual is infected with coronavirus, he or she may contaminate their food, plate, cutlery, and drinking glasses," he explains. And for more activities you can kiss goodbye, check out these 7 Things You Absolutely Should Not Be Doing With Friends Right Now.

Not giving someone your business card

Handing a business card

Want someone to have your professional information? They can take your number down in their phone, because the days of exchanging business cards are over.

"You won't want to receive or present your business card even when asked" amid the pandemic, says etiquette expert Maryanne Parker, founder of Manor of Manners. "There are many other forms of digital communication which are utilized very successfully by all of us."

Not tipping in cash

Cash tip

While cash may be the preferred method of tipping in some industries, handling money during the coronavirus pandemic isn't everyone's cup of tea.

"Instead, you should use digital currencies," says Parker. "You won't want for the person in front of you to have to reject the tip, especially when it is so much needed in these uncertain times."

However, that doesn't mean there's ever an excuse to forgo that gratuity entirely. "It is best to tip often and well," says certified etiquette instructor Karen A. Thomas, who recommends calling ahead to give a tip over the phone or tipping online whenever possible.

Not holding the door for others

white woman holding door open
Shutterstock/Alliance Images

If you're worried about the prospect of inadvertently making contact with a stranger while holding the door for them, go ahead and let it close behind you.

"When you are not able to do a simple gesture like holding the door for someone, go through quickly," recommends Jacquelyn Youst, president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol. "Putting regular etiquette to the side doesn't mean you're being rude," she explains. For more ways to keep yourself safe, discover these 7 Things Doctors Warn You Not to Do When You Go Out in Public.

Not letting others off the elevator first

woman leaving elevator

It may have once been considered polite to let others off the elevator before you, but today, it's every person for themselves.

"You won't want to give the right of way to people inside the elevator as before," says Parker. "During COVID-19, the faster we leave the premises we occupy together, the better."

Not saying hello to others in the elevator

coworkers talking on elevator

Luckily, if you do find yourself stuck in the elevator with others, there's no longer any pressure to strike up a conversation. Not only can talking in a confined space spread coronavirus, "It is hard to speak with a mask and this might prompt [someone] to remove it even for a brief moment," which can be dangerous, Parker explains.

Not sharing office supplies

woman in hijab lending white male coworker a pen
Shutterstock/Yuriy Golub

You would have had no problem lending your coworker a pen or stapler a few months ago, but with coronavirus still spreading, keeping those supplies to yourself is a far better choice.

"In our reality, sharing is no longer caring [and can] increase the potential danger of spreading germs and viruses," says Parker.

Not sending physical thank-you notes

thank you note in brown envelope

Unless you want to give your friends and family members an extra item to disinfect, it's perfectly acceptable to forgo physical thank-you notes for the foreseeable future.

However, that doesn't mean your gratitude shouldn't be expressed when appropriate: "Send a thank you via social media, email, or private message" instead, suggests Youst.

Using hand gestures to communicate

two female coworkers pointing at computers
Shutterstock/Drazen Zigic

While pointing and gesturing with your hands has historically been an etiquette faux pas, wearing masks can make it difficult to get your point across without them.

"Hand gestures are always a good way to accentuate a conversation," says Thomas.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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