Greeting people in 2020 can be awkward enough: Do you bop fists? Go in for an elbow bump? or just give ’em the finger pistols.

Throw COVID-19 in the mix and it’s even trickier. Some people don’t like being touched in general, but these kinds of personal space measures can be severely exaggerated during a global pandemic that has the potential to kill millions of people.

And when you toss in a new culture, meeting someone can turn into a completely unseemly experience. 

Save yourself from embarrassment on your next trip and come prepared for an appropriate greeting. The following list is your ultimate guide to greeting people from different cultural backgrounds during COVID-19

– Germany: A firm nod

The Germans have never really been that warm of a people, ever since, well, you know. While greeting Germans during a pandemic, all you need to do is tilt your head several degrees towards them while maintaining eye contact.

– Thailand: Press your hands together and slightly bow

It’s always a bit like this. Pandemic or not. Maybe that’s because the Thai have come to learn that 50% of the Australians they come in contact with are not the type of people you want to shake hands with.

– Japan: Bow

Again, this has always been this way – it is both honourable and hygienic. Why change?

– Greece: An overly aggressive slap on the back

Possibly a bit too much contact for these uncertain times, but really, who’s gonna tell Papou that a global outbreak of an unknown but deadly virus now means he has to slightly alter his day to day life?

– The United Kingdom: An open mouth pash

Judging by the rapid outbreak of COVID-19 across Britain and Boris Johnson’s extremely lacklustre effort to contain it – this must be what everyone is caught up doing.

– UAE and Saudi Arabia: Touch noses

Probably not a good thing to be doing, but the Saudis claim to have less than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19. So maybe it’s been neutralised. Or maybe, per chance, they are lying to us about their numbers.

– Italy, Spain, and Portugal: Kiss on both sides of the elbow.

It seems to have been particularly hard to condition the people of southern Europe to remove lips from their day-to-day greetings. However, after months of panic, the elbow has replaced the cheeks for kissing.

– France: Kiss on the elbow three or four times

Of course, the same as Italy, but far more needlessly romantic.

– The Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland: Kiss elbows three times from right to left to right

The same as Italy, but again, a little bit more over the top – and possibly more efficient.

– United States: Hug each other while shirtless and kiss each other on the mouth like pornstars.

Seems to be whats happening in Miami at the moment.

– Australia: Point to someone and say “This ______”

The blank space can be filled with some sort of swear word or any other type of slur that would leave outsiders to presume to don’t like each other.


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