While some states in the US are starting to ease the blocking measures, the future of handshakes remains uncertain. “I don’t think we have to shake hands again to be honest with you,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the White House anti-coronavirus team in April. “Not only does it prevent coronavirus disease, but it will certainly reduce the incidence of influenza in this country.”

The guidelines for social distancing are likely to remain in force for a long time, according to US government guidelines for reopening the country, especially for people in need such as the elderly and those with other concomitant diseases, such as lung disease, overweight and diabetes.

This could create what Stuart Wolf, associate president of Dell Medical Clinical Integration and Operations, calls a “science-fiction dystopia,” where society would be divided into those who can be affected and those who must remain isolated. . This can have serious psychological consequences, says Dr. Wolf.

“Habits hardly die,” says Elke Weber, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University. “On the other hand, social habits and norms can change when the social and economic context and, in this case, the health context change.”

There are already many non-contact options. For example, bending has been widely practiced around the world – and has been cited as the cause of fewer deaths due to coronavirus in Thailand. Then there are hand signals, shaking of the head, laughter and smiles that do not involve physical contact.

But Prof Legare notes that one of the great ironies of Covid-19 is that just when people are faced with stressful circumstances, they depend on touch. “Think of ways we respond when people are sad after death or something bad has happened, with a hug, or we can just sit next to a person and touch him on the shoulder.”

While avoiding the disease is an essential part of human survival, so is living a complex social life, says Arthur Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

“We’re probably going to start by focusing more on hand washing routines, hand sanitizing and strategies for not touching the face than giving up contact,” he says. “The real concern is that we will develop a new normality that has no touch, and so we will not understand what we are missing, without having any contact with the people in our social circle. / bota.al

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