Ways you can greet people during the coronavirus outbreak that are not kissing, hugging, or shaking hands

PHOTO: Facebook/Lee Hsien Loong

Social distancing is now a norm during this coronavirus pandemic, and stricter safe distancing measures have been put in place in public spaces, with people keeping at least one metre apart from each other. 

If your love language is physical touch, then the current social practices are sure to leave you feeling quite odd in resisting a handshake or a hug.

But we humans have evolved to be able to adapt pretty quickly to changing circumstances, and recently, we've noticed people using more creative (and hygienic) ways to replace the common handshake.

Which would you go for? Take your pick!

Gong Xi style

Starting the list is PM Lee doing his recent walkabout and greeting residents with the fist and palm salute, or the 'gong xi' gesture, usually used when greeting one another during Chinese New Year. Other MPs have followed suit too.

It is easily recognisable by residents as a form of greeting and they have reciprocated by doing the same.

Namaste greeting

PHOTO: Pexels

Widely used before and after a yoga session, students will greet their instructors by pressing their palms together and saying "Namaste", which literally means "I bow to you". 

The palms are brought upwards toward the chest and a slight bow is usually made, which symbolises gratitude and respect to the other. 

This greeting is commonly used in India, without mouthing the words "Namaste" but it means the same thing as well. 

Elbow bump

The elbow bump is a little more playful for less formal greetings, and the friendly nudge will often bring a smile to one's face. 

Instead of extending your hand out, you offer your elbow instead. This way, you'll likely be standing side by side instead of exposing yourself to a direct face-to-face contact.

Though, you'll want to make sure you're maintaining the one-metre distance between one another. 

Hand on heart or Salam Malaysia

However, you may want to pay heed to the advice of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). He said in a tweet that he prefers putting one hand on his heart instead of doing elbow bumps when greeting people as it still puts you in the risk of being within one-metre of another person.

The hand on heart is also otherwise known as 'Salam Malaysia', which is a form of greeting for tourists suggested by then Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir in 1999.

Foot tap or foot shake

PHOTO: Pexels


Almost like a handshake, you only come in contact with each other by using your foot.

You do this by tapping your right foot to another person's right foot, but beware of cheeky folks who are out to ruin your perfectly clean, white kicks.



The air-five is another greeting etiquette approved by the WHO. You'll get to maintain the one-metre distance, and you don't have to contaminate your hands and spend another 20 seconds washing them. 

This greeting might need some getting used to though, especially if you still suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from all those vanishing high-five pranks your friends pulled on you in school.

Shaka sign


Also known as the "hang loose" sign in Hawaii and in the surfing community, the shaka sign symbolises the "aloha spirit". 

The sign is a friendly expression to represent thanks and that things are great, or to tell someone to take it easy. So the next time you flash the shaka sign, you're saying more than just hello.

Take a bow


Adopt the Japanese culture and bow to one another instead of exchanging physical contact. The bow ranges from a simple nod of the head to a bend at the waist in a more formal setting. 

As an alternative to the bow, WHO has also suggested nodding your head while making eye contact with one another.


And hey, if you're a fan of Star Trek, now's the time to do the classic Vulcan salute by spreading your fingers into a V-shape, which means to "Live long and prosper". Quite apt in the world we're living in now. 

Do you know of other socially responsible ways to greet one another?

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