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Feeling Socially Awkward Post-COVID? Some Dos and Don'ts

June 04, 2021

Last month, "Saturday Night Live" did a skit called “Post Quarantine Conversation” that felt relatable to pretty much everyone. The scene was a post-fully-vaccinated cocktail party. As people reconnected with small talk on the outside, inwardly they wondered: “Who is this?” “Is she my cousin?” “Is this really a conversation?” As Connecticut enters its “fully reopened” stage of pandemic life, a legitimate and somewhat pressing question is: What's acceptable in social situations as we emerge from COVID? And when it's not acceptable, what's the alternative? We asked Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare's System Director of Infection Disease and Chief Epidemiologist, for his thoughts on the return of pre-pandemic social actions.

Q: Handshake? Hug? Bro hug? Kiss on the cheek? High five?

A: The best thing to do is avoid the above-mentioned gestures. From a hygiene standpoint, this has likely contributed to disease transmission since the beginning of time. It is rumored that the handshake came out of the Wild West to show that you didn’t have a gun. But if there are other ways to greet each other, I would strongly encourage them, not just for COVID but for all communicable diseases ranging from the common cold all the way to influenza. Great alternatives include: Namaste, fist bump, elbow bump or a simple wave.

Q: Close-talking without masks?

A: Only if they are both vaccinated.

Q: Is it OK to ask someone, "Are you vaccinated?’"

A: It should be an acceptable question that we can ask these days. If we don’t ask, it will never be the norm.