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No more hugs? Will this be the legacy of coronavirus?

To hug or not hug? Outraged that I even suggested it? Or excited that you might not be alone in your desperation for some human contact?

As a results of coronavirus, social rules are changing, and changing fast! The government and members of the public (Twitter) in Denmark shamed people for not keeping 2 metres apart whilst enjoying the sunshine at the weekend. Chances are you already feel guilty about hugging your partner or your Mum.

Illustration by Paul Thurlby via Juxtapoz magazine

We are already cautious of being socially shamed for getting too close. The question before last week was 'to hug or not to hug'. Now it’s whether you will arrange to meet others who are not members of your everyday entourage, even if you do stay 2 metres apart and feel ‘fine’. Are you in group A or B? (A = will hug, B = will not).

So, what happens post-corona? What is the future for hugging, or any kind of social closeness? This new world order won’t end abruptly with a clean cut, and according to some experts, we could be waiting up to 18 months for a vaccine. So these new safety measures could go on for a ‘prolonged period’, which means we’ll rapidly be getting used to these new ways of greeting and behaving one another. Think how easily you now think twice about touching your face, a door handle or standing too near someone else, even a good friend?

Habits take time to fade, especially when they are associated with something so serious and something so connected to anxiety. The rising sense of concern felt now at going to a public space is becoming replaced by an automatic behaviour to avoid potential danger or wrongdoing, and disdain for those having ‘lockdown parties’ and ‘corona speakeasies’.

Virus behaviours adopted in Hong Kong during SARS are still used in daily life: opening and closing doors with your feet instead of your hands (where possible if one is not an octopus) alongside wearing masks if you feel unwell and thorough hand washing techniques.

Post corona, there are guaranteed be some interesting changes in many aspects of life... what about dating? Will we rush straight to 3rd base in desperation, or take more time for conversation? Or when we eat out. We will need to strike a balance between authentic and hygienic: will there be more trust placed in big chain restaurants over small businesses or dinner clubs? Fitness centres will have to rethink their budget business models: cleaning your own equipment is not always a reliable approach. Hobbies like dancing – how keen will the A’s or B’s be to salsa dance any time soon? Will the A’s feel guilty and the B’s feel contempt?

We crave closeness - it's part of our makeup as human beings. We need to be with others. We want it. But old - and fear driven - habits die hard. We might be cautious of closeness for some time to come. What do you think?

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