To shake or not to shake? How to greet others while staying safe from coronavirus

BOSTON — As concerns over the global spread of COVID-19 grow with each passing day, the way in which we go about our day-to-day has also changed.

With current health concerns in mind, health officials and specialists have recommended people get serious about washing their hands and wiping down communal surfaces, but what do you do when you have to greet people?

Whether you’re a complete germophobe or aren’t really scared of the virus, it’s been a topic on everyone’s mind and now something that poses another layer to societal interactions: Do I refuse to shake hands and risk coming off as rude or resort to verbal greetings?

Etiquette expert Jodi Smith says handshaking is something you cannot hold back on without being rude, but many are resorting to creative and different ways to say hello.

Elbow bumps or foot bumps have become increasingly popular in Asia, where the height of the outbreak is happening, and there’s nothing stopping you from adapting the same practices here. Of course, if someone extends their hand out to you, the rule of thumb is to shake it and then be careful not to touch your face until you are able to wash your hands.

And, of course, communication is key. How do you know if you are being polite or not?

“I think you have to say something," said John Legasey, of Salem. “I think if you just say coronavirus that is enough for most people.”

Others, however, think its best to just bite it, shake hands and run to the bathroom as soon as possible to wash them

“How have you been making the decisions to shake someone’s hand or not? Well I’ve been shaking hands, I have," said Stacey Swilley, of Dorchester. “I just think we [should] wash them [later].”