ScoMo declares ‘no more handshakes’
Just hours ago Australians were being told it's okay to shake people's hands.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has just given clear instructions around the common greeting, saying: "No more handshakes."
"This is a new thing we've moved to, something I will be practising, my cabinet members and others are practising," he said during a live address.
"This is not something that was necessarily a key requirement weeks ago but it's just another step up now."
His official advice comes just hours after Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told ABC's Insiders the gesture was "low risk".
And it seems Mr Morrison's declaration, which is part of the government's "social distancing" strategy to avoid the spread of the COVID-19, is proving popular with Australians who are breathing a sigh of relief after receiving mixed messages.
Earlier this month NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard suggested Australians think twice about the popular act.
But leaving the handshake behind is easier said than done, as US President Donald Trump has admitted as he continues to greet people in the traditional way despite coronavirus fears.
Scott Morrison himself also went for a handshake with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at the Council of Australian Governments meeting on Wednesday.
WHERE DID THE HANDSHAKE COME FROM?
The handshake has long been understood as a gesture that establishes a positive connection between two people.
It is one of the first gestures mentioned in Henry Siddons's 1807 Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action, a manual of gestures designed for English actors that was an adaptation of a classic earlier text, Ideen zu Einer Mimik (1785), by Johann Jacob Engel of the National Theatre Berlin, The Conversation reports.
As people abandon handshakes in a bid to avoid the potentially deadly coronavirus, some communities have adopted foot-taps instead.
Footage of Chinese residents tapping feet instead of shaking hands has gone viral on Twitter after being posted to Chinese social media platform Weibo.
The move has been dubbed a "foot-touching curtsy" and "the Wuhan shake", named after the city where COVID-19 was first identified.
Meanwhile Prince Charles stopped himself from shaking hands with someone at a public appearance, instead holding his hands together and bowing his head.
The Queen has also ditched her usual way of greeting guests after a UK health minister was confirmed to have the disease.
Pictures of the 93-year-old monarch meeting the Sri Lankan High Commisioner Saroja Sirisena and her husband this week show she greeted the couple from a distance.
HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK
Health authorities are reminding people of the simple things they can do to reduce risks.
These include washing hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs and avoiding unnecessary contact with people and wild or farm animals.
Two new government TV adverts aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus were launched this weekend as part of a $30 million new national communications campaign from the federal government.
One of ads details the hygiene steps you can take. Another gives advice for people who have recently travelled overseas or come into contact with someone who has the virus.
For those people it states that you should monitor your health, and if you develop flu-like symptoms you should "seek medical advice".
The adverts also encourages people to keep up with the latest advice at health.gov.au.