Tensions are high as the nation sizes itself up, with everyone wondering if the person who just sneezed on the bus actually intends to pull out any hand sanitiser – or why your colleague is glowering at you in the work loos.
As coronavirus continues to spread, the population appears increasingly divided into two camps: those who are worried and taking every precaution available, and those who are blasé, or some might say, throwing caution to the wind.
If your friendship groups are anything like ours, the growing ‘corona caution’ gap is taking its toll. That ceaselessly-positive housemate who’s determined to “keep calm and carry on” while you’re dousing yourself in anti-bac is a recipe for passive aggression. Or let’s face it, just aggression.
So how do you navigate coronavirus without falling out with your friends, colleagues or total strangers? Being optimistically sensible – but not selfish – seems to be the solution.
In this new era, this is the social etiquette we suggest you follow:
Do the Wuhan Shake
If someone swerves your handshake, follow Angela Merkel’s lead and don’t take offense. Instead, get down with Mutti and the kids and do the “Wuhan Shake”, aka bumping ankles – or if you’re more worried, simply wave in a friendly fashion as you enter the room, then put your hands firmly back in those pockets.
This lack of contact might sound like a disaster if you’ve got a hot first date lined up (in fact, we hear some people have been cancelling theirs). But if you must cheek-kiss hello, keep it to air kisses, darling.
High-class and healthy in one fell swoop.
Be a good housemate
And by ‘good’ we mean absent. If you’ve been told to self-isolate after potential contact with the virus or that nice trip to Italy, please, please, take it seriously.
Sure, you may roll your eyes if you feel perfectly fine, but the incubation period for the virus is anything between one to 14 days.
For those living in house- or flat-shares, self-isolating can be tricky, but Public Health England says there are steps you can take to limit the risk of contamination. These include using your own kitchen equipment, staying in your room where possible with the window open, cleaning the bathroom thoroughly after you’ve used it and taking your dinner to your bedroom to limit contact.
You’ve got a free pass to be anti-social for a bit. Take it.
Again, don’t be a selfish Sally at the supermarket. Before filling your trolly up with a shelf-load of hand sanitiser, think about how your stockpiling might impact those who are chronically ill or have compromised immune systems.
Other forms of unacceptable shopping behaviour include buying every tin in sight, touching the self-service touch screens if you’re feeling poorly and pulling a knife over some toilet paper. Yes, really.
Wash your hands
Twitter is awash with outraged comments like “just seen someone sneeze on the tube and touch the rail” or “no one in my office toilet is washing their hands!”
There’s no excuse people: PHE has advised that regular hand washing is key to stopping the spread of the virus. If soap and water aren’t available, use some hand gel.
Don’t let FOMO spread the Coron-o
Been invited to a party but your girlfriend is showing signs of symptoms? This one’s a no brainer: don’t go.
People who have, or might have, been exposed to coronavirus either because they’ve been to a high-risk country, show symptoms, or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, are being told to self-isolate for 14 days.
While the official government advice isn’t to hit the panic button just yet, if in doubt, keep your distance. Really, is it worth it?
Best not to take it personally
On a serious note, recognising that health anxiety is real could be the key to rescuing a strained friendship. You might think the caution is an overreaction, but your pal may be losing sleep over your hygiene hiatus. Try to see things from their perspective and don’t take precautions personally.