10 Tips To Minimize Hug Risk During the Pandemic

“May I hug you?” In the many months since the Covid-19 pandemic began, most of us have asked or been asked this question. Although more and more of us will get vaccinated in the coming months, questions of hug safety and consent will persist for many months or possibly years, depending on how long it takes for the pandemic to end.

Two articles, “How To Hug During a Pandemic” by Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times and “How Risky Is a Hug Right Now?” by Steve Calechman of the Harvard Health blog address the hug issue. Both claim that no hug is completely safe at this point, yet once you have assessed your own risk and comfort zone, you may take some precautions for a quick hug. Here are 10 safe hugging tips gleaned from the two articles:

  1. Talk about it—Mutual hug consent is absolutely necessary, so ask before hugging and plan out how the hug will happen.
  2. Wear a mask—Don’t hug without one.
  3. Turn your heads in opposite directions—You know how back in ordinary times, we’d sometimes smash noses by accident when hugging? Avoid face-to-face mishaps by both turning your heads to the right, hence facing in opposite directions as you move in for the hug.
  4. Hold your breath—We know that Covid is spread through respiratory droplets. Hold your breath and don’t exhale into the other’s breathing zone.
  5. Quick squeeze—Your hug should last fewer than 10 seconds, which most hugs do anyway.
  6. Don’t talk or cough—It’s natural to want to say a few words such as “I’ve missed you,” but don’t do that during the hug. Also, don’t cough.
  7. Try not to cry—Lots of us have tears waiting right under the surface these days, but tears and runny noses are ways to spread viruses, so keep your “liquids” to yourself.
  8. Step back six feet—Step back to a proper six-foot distance after the hug before you exhale and continues the conversation.
  9. Wash your hands—Even if it doesn’t seem as if a hug has dirtied them, it’s safest to do so.
  10. Let kids hug you around your knees or waist—The adult should turn their face to lower risk of sharing droplets; wash hands and/or change clothes after the kid visit is over.

Find tees for safe huggers here.